The week of Jan. 30, 2022 through Feb. 5, 2022 marks National Catholic Schools Week across the U.S., and this year’s theme is, “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.
Here we highlight a few of the many special events that take place throughout the academic year on Orange County Catholic school campuses which celebrate the value a Catholic education provides to the community and the nation.
“While all our schools participate in Celebrate Catholic Schools Week each year, we celebrate, all year, the amazing communities of faith at all of our schools,” said Diocese of Orange Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marketing and Enrollment, Mike Schabert. “We celebrate our dedicated administrators and teachers who have put themselves on the “front line” for our children. We celebrate parents who chose a Catholic school wanting a values-based, faith-filled community for their children in a world so desperate for the light of Christ. And we celebrate our beautiful children who brighten our world with their love of life and God.”
At St. Hedwig Catholic School in Los Alamitos, sixth graders complete their Ancient Greek unit each year by hosting their version of the Greek Games. The day of competition begins with a processional of students wearing a Greek “chiton”. Team and individual events such as the underarm Frisbee toss, the pool noodle throw, or the backpack sprint, showcase the students’ physical skills. Good sportsmanship is also rewarded in the point totals.
STUDENTS AT ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN SANTA ANA SING WITH MRS. MARTIN AS PART OF THE POSADAS. PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC SCHOOL
After they finish jumping, dashing and throwing, the teams enjoy a Mediterranean banquet featuring hummus, grape leaves, lamb kabobs and baklava. In the spirit of the ancient Olympic Games, first, second and third place winners receive an olive wreath, while all the participants walk away with a lifetime of memories.
The Dragons of St. Joseph Catholic School in Santa Ana end each calendar year with a celebration of the Posadas, the journey of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem prior to the birth of Jesus. Accompanied by the music of Mrs. Martin, the eighth graders visit each classroom to sing the traditional song of the Pelegrinos. The younger students follow in the procession, and all receive hot chocolate and sweet bread at the end of the journey.
To kick off the new year, the Dragon community hosted their first ever Loteria Game Night. Family and friends from the school and surrounding community purchased tickets, played games, won prizes and shared a fun night while welcoming in 2022.
All Saints Day at St. Barbara Catholic School in Santa Ana featured an all school Mass hosted by the eighth-grade class where students were encouraged to dress as the saint who has been the most influential in their lives. The students also presented oral reports on saints such as St. Anne, St. Michael and St. Francis of Assisi.
In December, a campus-wide celebration was held in honor of the school’s patron, St. Barbara. The eighth-grade class once again led the celebration by performing a play about the life of St. Barbara. The entire student body honored the school’s namesake through games, a fashion show and an art contest.
Enjoyed by families, grandparents and alumni alike, St. Cecilia Catholic School’s Spring Show is annual campus event that brings together generations of St. Cecilia graduates. The eighth-grade class takes the lead while each grade participates with a class song. Former students, young and old, reunite and reminisce about their time at the Tustin campus.
At the high school level, Rosary Academy’s senior class hosted “Christmas in Paris” last November, a winter formal event for high school students with special needs. In partnership with RAD Camp Orange County, Down Syndrome Association OC and the Special Needs Ministry in the Diocese of Orange, Rosary students provided hair and makeup for the attendees and even joined them on the dance floor.
ST. CECILIA CATHOLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM AT THE SCHOOL’S SPRING SHOW, AN ANNUAL TRADITION. PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. CECILIA CATHOLIC SCHOOL
Also in November, Rosary’s sophomore class hosted a community dance at Sunnycrest Retirement Home in
Fullerton. Dinner, dancing and games were part of the festivities, and special patriotic boutonnieres and corsages were provided for the residents.
Earlier this month, senior Royals attended Kairos 61 at Mission San Luis Rey, a retreat program that has been part of Rosary’s history for more than 20 years. At the retreat, seniors take some time before they transition into college to deepen their faith and focus on their relationship with God.
During their freshman year, twins Brooke and Emma Murdock lost their grandmother to cancer. To honor her legacy and give back to the community, the Santa Margarita High School sophomores came up with the idea of making comfort crosses. Inspired by how their grandmother used to carry pendants, crosses, pillows and prayer cards for comfort, the sisters began repurposing wood from their father’s company that has been blessed by shaping the crosses and etching them with the SM logo.
Out of this act that honors their grandmother, the Comfort Cross Club was born. The Murdock twins, along with club members and classmates Logan Bryant, Nicky Garofalo and Sonia Gupta, distribute the Comfort Crosses with accompanying prayer cards to faculty and staff throughout the school to offer comfort and remind them that they are never alone.
“In the Diocese of Orange, Catholic schools play a vital role in the evangelizing mission of our Church,” said Superintendent of Diocese of Orange Catholic Schools, Erin Barisano. “We form students’ whole being: body, mind and soul so they may become the people God is calling them to be. Through Catholic faith formation, academic excellence and service, our students find joy in their own lives and share this joy with others.”
For more information on Orange County Catholic schools, visit occatholicschools.org.