In the heart of the Diocese of Allentown, the legacy of Catholic education dates back to 1743 when the first Catholic school opened its doors as a single classroom in Bally, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Today, Saint Francis Classical Catholic Academy proudly stands as the second oldest Catholic school in the original 13 colonies.
Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2024), a time-honored celebration, is the perfect time to recognize how these outstanding institutions have impacted and shaped the lives of young people for centuries. With 34 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Allentown, the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania is committed to making sure every school continues to be a beacon for academic excellence and faith formation. Just as they were 281 years ago.
Catholic Schools Week 2024: Celebrating Faith and Education
“Our Catholic faith is interwoven into every aspect of education,” said Michael St. Pierre, Superintendent of Education for the Diocese. “From curriculum to the arts, from athletics to hiring, from facilities to fundraising – our faith is central to all that we are.”
The secret formula to the consistent success in student achievement lies in the dedicated efforts of families, teachers, and staff. Together, they cultivate a dynamic and creative learning environment that empowers students to reach their full potential. Catholic Schools Week not only commemorates the rich heritage, but also the ongoing commitment to fostering the future of the Catholic faith through education.
“If we want our Church to continue being vibrant and alive in the future, we need to concentrate on our young people and their faith formation through our Catholic schools,” said Monsignor Daniel Yenushosky, Vicar Forane of Lehigh County Deanery in the Diocese, and pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Whitehall.
St. Pierre sees Catholic schools not merely as alternatives to public schools but as an entirely different way of seeing the world.
“Our schools can and will become, once again, the Church’s best means of raising up young people in the faith,” St. Pierre said.
Empowering Through Endowments: Ensuring Access and Excellence
While many students aspire to attend or remain in Catholic schools, financial constraints often pose challenges for families. Cost is cited as the primary reason for families not enrolling their children in Catholic schools. However, the presence of healthy endowment funds ensures that scholarships are available to support families in keeping their children in Catholic schools.
Endowments also play a vital role in recognizing and honoring the dedicated teachers and staff who contribute to the academic and spiritual development of students.
“A healthy endowment fund safeguards our future by providing a steady source of income to support our amazing teachers, as well as learning programs and activities for our students,” Beth Grys, Principal at the Mercy School for Special Learning, said.
Legacy Gifts: Sustaining the Mission for Generations
The Catholic Foundation encourages donors to consider legacy gifts, providing a lasting impact on Catholic education. Planned gifts, including contributions through wills, memorials, IRA transfers, and insurance and investment beneficiary designations, find a meaningful home in endowment funds.
“For many of our donors, every week is Catholic Schools Week,” Pete Waldron, President of the Catholic Foundation, said. “They are driven by a strong desire to sustain the success and outcomes witnessed in Catholic schools.”
At the heart of the Catholic Foundation’s mission is the commitment to Catholic schools. Making a legacy or forever gift to your favorite Catholic school ensures that the rigorous academics, unwavering faith, guiding principles, and service to others will continue to shape the lives of students.
“Fostering a legacy of excellence spans generations,” Waldron said.
As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2024, let us also pledge to secure the future of Catholic education with our enduring support now and through forever gifts.