Though Catholic Schools Week is an annual tradition in parochial schools nationwide, for East Catholic School in Forest Hills this time will be special.
The reason: It is the first year for the school and the first opportunity to share what's been happening the last five months with the parishes that support the school—and the communities East Catholic serves.
The theme of this year's national Catholic Schools Week—Jan. 27 to Feb. 2—is "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards." The theme highlights the recent launch of a new initiative, the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, to ensure consistent high standards at Catholic schools across the country.
However, because East Catholic is a new entity created from three merged schools—Good Shepherd, Word of God and St. Maurice—its theme will be "Great Beginnings Last a Lifetime."
“It is for God we serve the poor, not for thanks” said Catherine McCauley 1778-1841, founder of the Sisters of Mercy.
With this quote in mind, East Catholic students will participate in a service project next week to collect peanut butter and jelly. Collected items will be donated to the Sisters of Mercy Sandwich Project to feed the homeless in conjunction with Operation Safety Net.
The East Catholic School community is planning a different focus for each day of Catholic Schools Week, based on the school's mission:
Parish: Sunday, Jan. 27
- Catholic Schools opening Mass will be celebrated at 12 p.m. at St. Maurice Church, followed by an open house in the school. Area residents are invited to attend. Students will make cards for the parishioners thanking them for their support of the school. A representative from East Catholic will at each of the consortium parishes: Good Shepherd, Madonna del Castello, St. Colman, St. John Fisher, Word of God and St. Maurice.
Faculty/Staff: Monday, Jan. 28
- The faculty and staff will have a dress down day. Other activities are being planned.
Nation: Tuesday, Jan. 29
- All students will wear red, white and blue. Students will make congratulatory notes to be sent to newly elected President Barack and Vice President Joe Biden. The day will end with a patriotic concert given by the students.
Volunteers: Wednesday, Jan. 30
- Students will wear their East Catholic shirts for School Spirit Day. Also, this day will be the day to say "thank you" to all those who volunteer in the school or do special things to benefit the school. A prayer service will be held in the church at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in the cafeteria.
Students: Thursday, Jan. 31
- This is “Decade Day," where students will concentrate on the various decades and have readers come in from the community.
- East Catholic will have a special “Perfect for Preschooler’s Story time” at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria. The theme of the story time will be a “Winter Wonderland Adventure.” Children and parents will participate in stories, rhyme, songs, craft, finger plays and other activities that encourage a love of reading. Reservations are required by Jan. 28 by calling the school office at 412-351-5403 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.
Vocations: Friday, Feb. 1
- The pastors from each of the consortium parishes will be invited to concelebrate the 9 a.m. Mass. Seminarians and sisters, together with the pastors, will be invited to speak to the students about vocations (religious life). They will also be invited to stay for lunch.