By Tom Loughlin Jr.

Fulfilling a portion of his promise to “be in every school and in every classroom [of the Catholic schools], so that I have a chance to see all our young people,” Bishop Douglas J. Lucia brought the tour to Utica’s Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High and Notre Dame Elementary School on Monday, Jan. 31.

At Our Lady of the Rosary Church located virtually across the street from the high school campus, the students heard the bishop encourage them to live up to the goals of “Faith. Excellence. Service.” The three virtues, recommended by the National Catholic Educational Association, are the theme of this year’s Catholic Schools Week.

Jan. 31 was the Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest, and Bishop Lucia called the saint an exemplar of those virtues.

Crossing Burrstone Road to the high school campus, the Bishop was greeted with a ukulele chorus performance by members of the student Right to Life organization. Classroom visits and a luncheon followed.

Notre Dame  Elementary School Principal Mary Rossi, Librarian Sondra Nassar and the students and teachers greeted the bishop with a massive project aligned with the “Service” virtue of Catholic Schools Week. Bishop Lucia watched as students assembled scores of backpacks loaded with parent/student–donated school supplies to be given to children of Afghan refuges resettling in the Utica area with the assistance of the Refugee Center in Utica.

Bishop Lucia beamed and then joined the Notre Dame Elementary students and teachers in the production line, packing kits himself.

Utica and her Catholic schools were ready for Catholic Schools Week and for Bishop Lucia.

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