Catholic Schools Week 2023 gets underway January 29
An annual celebration of Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Buffalo returns in the final days of January and first days of February. Catholic Schools Week activities will be held within schools Jan. 30 through Feb. 3.
The week will kick off with a special recognition during 9 a.m. Mass Sunday, Jan. 29 at Nativity of Our Lord Church in Orchard Park.
“I think for us, it means getting out and getting a chance to experience the joy in the schools. We’re going to get out and visit as many schools as we can,” said Dr. Timothy Uhl, secretary of Education for the diocese.
“January can be kind of a doldrum month, you know, especially now that the Bills are out of the playoffs. There’s not a whole lot of fun going on right now. So, it’s a chance to have a spirit week.”
Uhl likens Catholic Schools Week to an elementary version of high school homecoming week. He and his associates will visit nearly a dozen schools during the first two days of the week. On Monday, they are scheduled to visit Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Depew, St. Mary Elementary and High Schools in Lancaster, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Harris Hill, and St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville. The following day, they’re scheduled to visit three schools in Tonawanda: St. Amelia, St. Christopher and Cardinal O’Hara High School, as well as St. Benedict in Amherst, Christ the King in Snyder, and SS. Peter & Paul in Williamsville.
Bishop Michael W. Fisher will join them in visits to Catholic Academy of West Buffalo and St. Joseph University in Buffalo Wednesday, St. Stephen in Grand Island on Thursday, and Our Lady of Victory School in Lackawanna on Friday. The bishop is scheduled to preside over Masses during the latter two visits.
Uhl explains the bishop is usually able to visit each school within the diocese about once every other year.
Individual schools will hold events focused on special themes throughout the week. The diocese, meanwhile, is sponsoring a spelling bee, Monday Jan. 30, at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore, and a chess tournament Saturday, Feb. 4 at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute.
The diocese also recently hosted bowling and kickball events as a means to expand extracurricular activities, but Uhl notes that diocesan officials wish to promote after-school activities beyond sports.
“We’ve known for a long time that if you can find one thing to connect students to school – one activity, one club, one sport – they’re much happier,” he said. “They stay at that school, and that becomes more attractive.”
Catholic School Week is more than just a spirit week for the students. It’s also a time when
the diocese can demonstrate the benefits of a Catholic education. What may surprise many people is the number of non-Catholic students enrolled in local Catholic schools. Uhl suggests many non-Catholic families are drawn to Catholic schools because they appreciate the values included with the lessons.
“I think for most of our families, the character values, the moral formation, is probably more important than the religious instruction,” Uhl said. “I think we can get discouraged by that and say, ‘Well, we need more people at Mass on Sunday, we need more people who are active Catholics.’ But the reality is, this is what draws them in. They want their students to be part of something bigger, and learn how to live a better life. So, those things are definitely factors.”
Hear Michael Mroziak talk to Dr. Tim Uhl.