Catholic Schools Week begins with special Mass with bishop
As Catholic Schools Week began, Bishop Michael W. Fisher visited Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park to thank the students and parents for choosing Catholic education. The Jan. 29 Mass saw students from the elementary school taking on the roles of greeters, gift bearers, and readers.
Begun in 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. This year’s celebration takes place Jan. 29-Feb. 4, with the theme of “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Schools typically observe the week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.
Bishop Fisher sees Catholic Schools Week as a time “when we really look at the importance of what schools means to us – in our church, in our society, in our diocese, and here at Nativity Parish.”
The bishop began his homily by asking all gathered to give thanks to those who mold young minds.
“Let us thank all those who teach in Catholic schools. Educating is an act of love. It is like giving life,” he said. “As we know, our Catholic schools are a place where our children and adults discern their gifts and their talents. With the help of mentors and teachers, they hopefully come to use these talents and gifts with humility for the benefit of our community and our society. But, I think even more importantly, and that goes to what our Scriptures are speaking to us today about, is to mold them and us into disciples of the Lord.”
“Catholic schools are not just institutions where religion is taught. It’s more than that. It’s seeing Christ at the center of everything,” Bishop Fisher said.
The bishop had a lot of math in his education as he attended an engineering high school. He sees having an order in numbers and science, means there is an order to the universe.
“God is that golden thread that should run through every one of our courses,” he said.
“Our schools help us to focus, not only on religion at the end of the day, but hopefully it helps us see God in all that we are, all that we do, all that we learn. And it is here that the Lord was calling us to be disciples,” the bishop concluded.
Father James Ciupek, pastor of Nativity, was recently named Pastor of the Year by the Department of Catholic Education in recognition of his care and concern for his students. He makes sure he greets them every morning, and tries to be present to them as much as he can.
“Catholic education certainly is an opportunity not only for our students to get a good academic education, but more importantly, to get grounded in the moral principles of then Church to make good decisions as they become adults in life,” he said.
After Mass, the school held an open house with displays showing what the students have done in each class. Last year, Delaney Gradwell started a project to raise money for incoming Afghan evacuees. Now attending Buffalo Seminary, she continues her mission to help others, something instilled in her years at Nativity.
“I learned a lot about different types of people. I got to apply that when I went to Sem. And now I get to learn about even more different types of people,” she said.