|Proclaiming Gospel at 'heart' of Catholic education, says archbishop|
Catholic News ServiceWASHINGTON — National Catholic Schools Week will be observed in U.S. dioceses Jan. 26-Feb. 1 with the theme: "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service."
"Our schools have educated millions of young people over the years by providing them a superior academic background, always pointing the way to eternal life," said Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb., chairman of education committee of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"The success of Catholic schools in handing on the faith, generation after generation, is a bright light in the history of the church in the United States," he added.
About 2.1 million students are currently educated in more than 6,600 Catholic schools across the country. Of these students, an estimated 99 percent graduate from high school and 85 percent attend college.
"The heart of the apostolate of Catholic education is the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools provide a rich environment of faith and learning where students experience how much God loves them in Christ," Archbishop Lucas said.
"They are free to express their own love for God in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments and to express love of neighbor in a community where each is respected as a gift from God," he added.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Catholic Schools Week, sponsored by USCCB and the National Catholic Educational Association. Schools and parishes around the country planned to mark the week with special Masses, school activities, open houses and potluck gatherings.
The NCEA urged schools to specifically celebrate the 40th anniversary of the observance by pledging 40 hours of service to their local communities.
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