(Vatican Radio) The Church in the United States is observing the week of January 31 – February 6 as National Catholic Schools Week 2016. This year's theme, "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service," focuses on the important faith-building, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont is the chairman of the Committee on Communications for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He spoke with Christopher Wells about the significance of National Catholic Schools Week.
He said it’s important to celebrate both the history of Catholic schools in the United States, but also “to strengthen and foster” Catholic schools “and commit ourselves once again to maintaining the excellent Catholic schools that we have in the country.”
Bishop Coyne said the theme of this year’s week promotes the idea that Catholic schools are not concerned simply with giving children knowledge, but with forming “the whole person – spiritually, pastorally, and in terms of their education” not just in terms of religion, but in terms of “education for life.” The theme, he said, “captures what is really so good about Catholic schools, that we’re not about education so much as we’re about formation.”
Catholic schools, he said, are especially important both in the United States and throughout the first world in a culture that has become increasingly secularized, that is “becoming less and less connected with religion, that often sees it as something to avoid.” Catholic schools offer the opportunity not only to educate children, but also to form and evangelize them.
Listen to Vatican Viewpoints, featuring the interview of Bishop Christopher Coyne with Christopher Wells:
The observance of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools around the county. One example is that an estimated 98 percent of students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent over the past 20 years.