It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

Catholic Schools Week is by far one of my favorite weeks of the year. Sponsored by the National Catholic Eductional Association, we can trace this annual weeklong celebration back to 1974. This year’s national theme is “Catholic Schools Raise the Standard.”
My passion for Catholic education:
Celebrating CSW annually is particularly meaningful for me as a lifelong product of Catholic Education. Since my first formal day of school at Sacred Heart of Mary in Graceland Park as a first-grader, Catholic schools and colleges have shaped and molded me into a woman of faith who loves God and the Church, and who values the importance of Catholic Education to the mission of the Church. This love for our schools is firmly embedded in my heart.
CSW here at The John Carroll School:
At John Carroll we celebrate with pride the gift of Catholic Education with a different appreciation-theme each of the five weekdays. CSW thus includes:  Student Appreciation Day with casual dress allowed, often with treats or homework passes from teachers and advisors; Faculty-Staff Appreciation Day with an adult dress-down and a special breakfast or lunch provided; and Parent-Appreciation Day where we pray for our school parents and the commitment and sacrifices they make daily to ensure a good education for their children. We always honor Archbishop John Carroll, the first U.S. bishop and archbishop of Baltimore and our school’s namesake.
Grandparents Day is the day that involves the most excitement as we invite grandparents (and parents too) to join us for our annual Catholic Schools Week Mass and for a special luncheon. It was most exciting for me to get word this past November that Archbishop Lori wanted to join us for our celebration. I knew it would be an amazing day as it would be the first visit of His Excellency to our school.
The visit of Archbishop Lori:
This great event was not without worry though as an ice storm came through in the early hours of Monday morning which caused Harford County to close schools for the day. (I joked with the kids later that since Monday was to have been Faculty-Staff Appreciation day, the adults were lucky to get the day off for their commitment to their students and our school.) Having school off that day allowed us to set up the Main Gym for Mass and get the Lower Gym ready for the Grandparents Luncheon, but we were concerned about missing our final practices with Music Ministry and our other liturgical ministers. 
Trusting in God’s providence, we knew that everything would work out for the good. And indeed it did!!
Tuesday (Jan. 29, 2013) will definitely go down as one of the most memorable days in the thirty-two years of my time serving at John Carroll. The day dawned, the sun was shining, and the temperatures were unseasonably warm as we welcomed Archbishop  Lori, the fifteenth successor to Archbishop John Carroll, to our school that bears Carroll’s name, the only Catholic high school in Harford County.
The Pectoral Cross of Archbishop John Carroll 
It was an incredible joy for me when it was confirmed that Archbishop Lori brought and wore the pectoral cross that belonged to Archbishop John Carroll. An invaluable treasure of our Church in the United States, this cross has been worn by Archbishops of Baltimore for more than two hundred years on special occasions. In recent years, Cardinal William Keeler (14th Archbishop of Baltimore) wore it in November of 2006 at the Rededication Mass of our Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption after the completion of the renovation project. 
Cardinal Edwin O’Brien (15th Archbishop of Baltimore) wore John Carroll’s pectoral cross most recently when he was elevated to the College of Cardinals last February, 2012. In an interview with WBAL-TV, His Eminence noted, “It’s a treasure, really, being the first pectoral cross in the United States over 200 years ago. I don’t dare wear it every day, but on a special occasion such as today, tomorrow and Sunday. It’s going to remind me of my debt to Baltimore and the church of Baltimore.”
Even more recently, Cardinal O’Brien passed the pectoral cross of our school’s namesake on to Archbishop Lori this past May 16, 2012 before his installation as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore. As he placed the cross over Archbishop Lori’s head, Cardinal O’Brien spoke about Archbishop John Carroll wearing the cross in the early days of Catholicism in our nation: “there was only one bishop in the country, and one such cross in the country.” 
Mass with the archbishop and our special guests:
Our students rose from their seats as Archbishop Lori and the other clergy entered the gym to begin our celebration of the liturgy. There was excitement in the air when our Chief Shepherd in Baltimore made his way to the altar as our students sang “Come, Now is the Time to Worship.” Joining us for this special celebration were members of our local clergy: Msgr. Michael Schleupner, pastor of nearby Saint Margaret Church and member of the John Carroll Board of Trustees; Father Stephen Sutton of our Religion Faculty and associate pastor of Saint Ignatius, Hickory, Deacon Victor Petrosino, father of a John Carroll graduate who also serves the good people of Saint Margaret’s, and Deacon Joseph Krysiak, the grandfather of a JC junior who serves the parishes of Saint Anthony of Padua and Most Precious Blood in Baltimore. Gathered with us too were many grandparents and parents who were glad to be part of this historic day for our school.
To see a slideshow of Archbishop Lori’s visit, click the arrows below
Archbishop Lori’s Homily:
Our good Archbishop had everyone’s attention when he asked if anyone was rooting for the Ravens this Sunday! He pointed out with a big smile that since he “became Archbishop of Baltimore almost ten months ago, the Orioles got to the playoffs for the first time in years and now the Ravens are in the Super Bowl.” You can just imagine the applause…
His Excellency continued his homily by comparing our Super Bowl Ravens to the Holy Trinity and the Church: “We are part of a team too, it’s called the Church. God the Father is the Owner, Christ His Son is the Coach, and the Holy Spirit is the One who inspires in us unity and teamwork.”
Several more excerpts from His Excellency’s homily:
“The Coach and the Quarterback might ask us to go long, to head to the end zone, to catch a Hail Mary pass, by accepting our vocation in life, or by going out of our way to perform an act of charity for those in need who can never pay us back, but we might find ourselves dawdling on the sideline, calling our own private time out from God and from the game, while the other team, the team that really wants to defeat us for good, marches down the field with relentless determination.”
“Every team has a victory chant and so do we. It’s called the Our Father and I hope you pray it every day… In other words, we’re praying to the Owner that the Coach’s (Christ’s) will be done in us and through us every single day.”  
Conclusion: “The immortal Dante wrote, “In His will is our peace.” And I might dare to add, “In His will is our victory.” May God bless you and keep you in His love.”
Other highlights:
So many people have shared that they felt the tangible presence of God during this special liturgy. From the presence of so many grandparents and parents sitting together with their students, to the music that sounded great even without that last important practice on Monday afternoon, the presence of local much-loved clergy with the Archbishop, to sophomore Juan’s prayerfully sung “Ave Maria” after Holy Communion, it was evident to me that our Loving God had His hand in our gathering every step of the way. 
The rest of the day included a brief reception with the Archbishop and Dr. Edmondson, a walking tour and some visiting of classrooms where the Archbishop interacted with our students and their family guests. Students and faculty alike were moved by the kindness and warmth of our Shepherd and it was obvious that they enjoyed their conversations.
Before long, we had to bid farewell to Archbishop Lori as he departed for nearby Saint Margaret School where he spent the afternoon talking about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. 

Before I left my office on Tuesday evening I reflected back on the day: What a proud day to be the Campus Minister of The John Carroll School: The blessings of the day included the joy and pride in the faces of the grandparents, parents, and visiting clergy as we shared together in a wonderful celebration for Catholic Schools Week with Archbishop Lori. I feel deep joy as I reflect on this fine day. God is Good!! All the Time!!   

Patti poses with Archbishop Lori 

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.