Courtesy Xochitl Mora,
With a full week of activities ranging from academic, artistic and talent to the deeply spiritual, the seven Catholic schools in the Diocese of Laredo will celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2010, January 30 to February 5, with most of the events occurring on the schools campuses. The celebration kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, January 30 with the Catholic Schools Annual Academic Meet, in which children will compete in poetry (English and Spanish); science, math, religion and ready-writing. The competition will take place at St. Augustine Schools, 1300 East Galveston, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending around 11:00 a.m.
Catholic schools have a very long and rich history in the communities of Laredo and Eagle Pass, Texas, which is part of the Diocese of Laredo in Texas. Our Lady of Refuge School in Eagle Pass was established in 1883 by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Laredo’s Our Lady of Guadalupe school was constructed in 1904 by the Ursulines. Interestingly, the Ursuline Sisters who came to Laredo in 1868 had a hand in the development and growth of Ursuline Academy circa 1868, which closed in 1974; they also helped establish Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Peter’s Memorial School in 1925. The Sisters of Divine Providence founded St. Augustine School in 1927 and the Marist Brothers established St. Joseph’s Academy in 1936, which closed in 1975. The Salesian Sisters arrived in Laredo in 1935 and soon after opened the doors to Mary Help of Christians Schools as a private school. It is the only school still in existence that is privately owned and still run by its founding order of Sisters. Most of the Catholic schools in Laredo are presently owned by the Diocese of Laredo. The Salesians also taught at Blessed Sacrament and St. Peter’s Schools. Blessed Sacrament School, founded in 1964, and Our Lady of Refuge in Eagle Pass are the only schools that are owned and operated by their respective parish church.
For many parents, the decision to send their children to a Catholic school is a deeply personal one, citing faith-formation, high-academic standards, values-added education and a safe-school environment as reasons for electing a private Catholic education. Today, while the religious on campus are fewer, the laity, in conjunction with the Diocese and several parishes work together in the spiritual formation of the students and their families. In Laredo, there are over 2,200 students receiving a Catholic education.
The schools have served as a pastoral instrument of the Catholic Church, responding to the needs of the children as whole persons, nurturing their intellectual, physical, cultural, spiritual and moral foundation. The schools’ philosophies reflect the Catholic character, to follow Jesus Christ’s example and to live as he did. The students’ view of the world is impacted by a Christian view in fellowship and in social justice. In Catholic schools, students and teachers are drawn to proclaim the Gospel message, to unite in worship, to respond to the needs of the community and to serve all people through the sharing of spiritual and temporal gifts.
Academically speaking, students who are enrolled in Catholic schools tend to fare much better than their peers enrolled in public or other private schools. Recent national studies have shown that a majority of students in private schools, particularly private Catholic schools, fare better on national tests than students in public schools or even other private schools, including higher average scores in reading, mathematics, science, and writing, as well as a 99% graduation rate for students in Catholic schools, and 97% of students in Catholic schools going on to college.
Laredoans are invited to not only applaud the accomplishments of Catholic schools, administrators, teachers and students, but also to find out more about they can offer their children by visiting the schools during the week of February 1 – February 5. Please join the Diocese of Laredo in a Mass of thanksgiving to be celebrated, Sunday, January 31, at 3:00 p.m. at San Augustin Cathedral. City of Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas will proclaim the week Catholic Schools Week on Monday, February 1, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Additionally, the annual Catholic School Talent Show will be the grand culmination of the week; that event takes place on Friday, February 5 at 6 PM at the Laredo Civic Center.