By William W. Crist | Diocesan superintendent

Catholic Schools Week 2020 — marked Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 — presents an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate, to pause and to recognize the gifts of our students shining within our schools. We come together during Catholic Schools Week with a sense of pride in, thanks for, and appreciation of our pursuit of the pinnacle of excellence in academics and service.

This weeklong celebration offers a magnificent view of what makes our schools unique: excellent academics provided with innovation and creativity, educators forming students in faith, and students showing their love of God through service to others.

At the core of their being, Catholic schools are an essential and integral part of our Church’s ministry, Thomas Burnford, president and CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association, recently affirmed. Catholic schools have a worthy obligation to evangelize because that is the mission of the Catholic Church — it is who we are as a faith community.

As we are Catholic first, we welcome all students to be part of any of our 22 schools. Nearly 80 percent of our students are Catholic, mirroring Catholic school populations nationwide. We teach our faith by knowing, living, and sharing who we are as Catholics. In the Winter 2020 edition of Pillars, Bishop Lucia shares his diocesan perspective on welcoming all students to learn about our faith with a respect for their own practices. “Catholic schools offer the choice to look at our world from a different perspective. That is not just the perspective, ‘How do I get ahead?’ We teach that God has a plan. They’re part of a bigger plan. They’re part of God’s plan. Their worth is not what they do. Their worth is who they are,” he says. [Editor’s note: Read Bishop Lucia’s full interview starting on the cover of this edition of the Sun.]

The successful Catholic school begins a relationship with parents, students, and staff the moment they come together as a community. Like Elisabeth Sullivan, executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, I too believe “Catholic schools have a unique opportunity to provide hope in a world that is increasingly beset by hopelessness. A world without God is a world without hope.” Our faith as Catholics teaches us to trust in God and in His promises made through Christ. We unite faith and reason by setting our faith as the cornerstone of each lesson taught and each discovery made. Catholic schools establish a wonderful and lasting foundation, one built within our building walls and then shared in practice as we carry out our lives for the common good.

We invite you to be part of our schools. I hope that our diocesan family will use this time, or even the remaining school year, to visit and experience a school in your area. As we usher in this upcoming week, we will focus on celebration, service, and vocations. Join us on this journey.

I thank all those who support our Catholic schools within the Diocese of Syracuse. We pray and work every day to ensure our Catholic schools will, in the words of Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “continue to fulfill their mission of bringing children and young adults into a relationship with Christ.”

Have a blessed Catholic S

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