Still different where it counts

Celebrate Catholic Schools Week came to a close on Saturday, Feb. 1. Throughout the Diocese of Camden, schools sponsored open houses; special liturgies and prayer services; academic competitions and showcases; meals for seniors, volunteers and other special people; events to celebrate diverse cultures; activities to foster community spirit; and an onslaught of service projects.

Catholic schools are known for these activities and more throughout the year, so why the need for a concentrated week? For Sister Sheila Murphy, principal at Cape Trinity Catholic School in Wildwood, it’s all about tradition. She remembers the first Catholic Schools Week, 1974.

“‘Different Where It Counts.’ That was the first tagline and I’ve always loved it. It stayed with me,” said Sister Sheila. She said she thinks about the tagline at the opening Mass every year, a Mass that could not happen outside a Catholic school community, the perfect example of how Catholic schools are different where it counts. According to Sister Sheila, this year’s Mass was particularly special because it was also the conclusion of the parish mission at the school’s primary parish, Notre Dame de la Mer. Turnout from school families was high, and Mass was followed by a parish lunch.

Service is the other element of Catholic Schools Week Sister Sheila cherishes. Like many other schools, Cape Trinity Catholic honors local first responders during the week. Students bring items for gift baskets, which are hand-delivered by families to several police and fire stations. Toiletry bags are also assembled by students and delivered to The Branches, a center in Rio Grande that cares for individuals who are homeless.

“We do some things just for fun, too,” said Sister Sheila, citing the teacher-student volleyball game as a highlight.

For anyone who might have missed the chance to visit during Catholic Schools Week, no worries. The doors to South Jersey Catholic Schools are open for visits, and students are welcome to shadow and discover the difference in a Catholic school education. Find a school near you at www.southjerseycatholicschools.org

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