Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
A delegation of students from Salem Catholic schools prepares to take up the offertory at an all-schools Mass Feb. 4 at Queen of Peace Church: Gabriel Moreno, Isabel Vasquez, Carson McNally, Madison Barnes-Nelson, Sarahi Sanchez.
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
A delegation of students from Salem Catholic schools prepares to take up the offertory at an all-schools Mass Feb. 4 at Queen of Peace Church: Gabriel Moreno, Isabel Vasquez, Carson McNally, Madison Barnes-Nelson, Sarahi Sanchez.
SALEM — Students from around the Salem area packed a large church Feb. 4 to celebrate Catholic education — and learn about their call as disciples.  

“Jesus clearly, young people, has on his heart a strong desire to call us to himself, but then to send us out to be his witnesses before the whole world,” Archbishop Alexander Sample told more than 800 students from five Salem-area Catholic schools, gathered at Queen of Peace Church for a Catholic Schools Week Mass. “That’s our call, each one of us, not just bishops and priests and religious sisters.”

The archbishop told students that in a Catholic school, they can learn about Jesus and what it means to follow him.

“We are to elevate the whole world by our presence, by our witness of love and mercy and justice in the name of Jesus,” the Archbishop said. “Not just as do-gooders but always connected to Jesus. That’s who we are.”

Holy Cross Brother William Dygert, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Portland, told students their schools are gift to them that offers faith formation, high quality academics, motivation to serve and good friends.
 

“The folks in your Catholic school care for you. Care for them and pay attention to and take advantage each day of all the wonderful things your school offers you,” Brother William said.

Father Tim Mockaitis, pastor of Queen of Peace Parish, says the schools form not only students, but faculty, staff and whole families.

Debilyn Janota, principal of Queen of Peace for 22 years, called Catholics schools “evangelizers.” When students from different schools see each other, there is joy, community and inspiration.

“It’s the Holy Spirit at its best,” Janota explains.

“It’s nice to get together with the whole Catholic community in Salem,” said John Jablonski, a student at Blanchet Catholic who was an altar server. “It emphasizes we are all one church and all together.”