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Catholic Schools Week Starts Next Week

January 23, 2024

From the Office for Social Ministry

Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2024 is January 28-February 3. The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2024 is “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.” Catholic schools all across the U.S. including here in Hawaii, observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities, and our nation. The Gospel values of faith, hope and charity, which are  fundamental to Catholic Education are also the basis for social ministry. So hopefully all parishes will connect how their living the Gospel values is the way that Catholic Education and parish social ministry are linked. We encourage all to participate fully in their parish activities around Catholic Schools Week here in Hawaii.

This year one inspiring example is the parish of Maria Lanakila in Lahaina whose Sacred Hearts School buildings were burnt to the ground in the catastrophic Maui wildfires last August. During that devastating time, 84 of the students and 12 of the teachers at Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina lost their homes and all the families had their livelihoods affected. But the school immediately re-opened at their the parish mission church in Kapalua. There, thanks to the deep faith and resilience of the students, parents and faculty, the Catholic school is still providing a safe, stable place with learning opportunities not only for the students who were previously enrolled but also for many from the public school that was entirely consumed by the fire. The children in need are nourishing a collective passion, as the community comes together to establish a fully functioning temporary school as a beacon of hope for the present and future. The Maria Lanakila Parish is currently working to find a “temporary-permanent” home for students with more space for classrooms and a playground until the catholic school can rebuild in 3-5 years. They established the Sacred Hearts School Tuition Assistance Fund so each child who is in need of tuition assistance can be assured of a Catholic education while their families rebuild their lives. This inspiring effort is depicted in a compelling video on the Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation website https://hicathcomfdn.org/SHSTuition. This is not just a story of survival; it is a story of Catholic Education thriving and rebuilding Lahaina's future.

During Thanksgiving week, Bishop Larry Silva sent out a letter saying, “I appeal to your grateful hears to support the tuition assistance fund, ensuring that education’s light continues to shine on those in need.” During this year’s Catholic Schools Week, let us witness to Jesus by helping the remarkably resilient Maui members of our Catholic Education Community rise once again. In this effort, let us remember Bishop Larry Silva’s inspiring message immediately after the Maui wildfires. “In our collective prayers, we ask for strength, resilience, and healing for the fire victims and their families. May we find the grace to rebuild our families, their livelihoods, and the physical structures that were lost. Let our faith guide us as we navigate the challenges ahead, knowing that with the grace of God, all things are possible. May God bless you all abundantly, and may our efforts bring comfort and hope to those in need. Maria Lanakila (Our Lady of Victory), pray for us!” Mahalo.