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October 22, 2020 REL Catechetical - K–6, REL Catechetical - Jr High, REL Catechetical - Early Childhood, REL Asset - Handout

Discover Catholic Schools Week 2020

In addition to the annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week held each January, NCEA has added a week called Discover Catholic Schools Week in November. The goal of this week is to help families and students discover Catholic Schools and the opportunities and benefits they provide. This post is designed to provide information and resources to support Catholic Schools in their efforts to participate in Discover Catholic Schools Week from November 8–14, 2020!


The Difference Between Catholic Schools Week and Discover Catholic Schools Week

In order to properly support each initiative, it is important to understand the difference between Catholic Schools Week and Discover Catholic Schools Week 2020.

Catholic Schools Week is an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States in January. An annual tradition that began in 1974, Catholic schools across the nation commemorate Catholic Schools Week with celebrations, Masses, open houses, and activities for students, families, parishioners, and community members. Catholic Schools Week events showcase and celebrate the rich traditions and the incredible value of Catholic education on both a local and national level. The traditional Catholic Schools Week celebration will take place from January 31 to February 6, 2021. 

Last year, The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) added a second week to celebrate Catholic schools, called Discover Catholic Schools Week. This weeklong celebration is designed to help show potential students and families the benefits of a Catholic education. This year, Discover Catholic Schools Week will be held November 8–14, 2020.


Catholic Schools vs Public Schools

Catholic Schools and the Students They Serve

What sets Catholic schools apart? According to NCEA, there are more than 6,000 Catholic schools nationwide. These schools—serving elementary, middle, and secondary school students—are located across all regions, giving many families the opportunity for accessible Catholic education.

The Benefits of Catholic Schools

  • The integration of faith with academic subjects, culture, and everyday life

  • The emphasis of living out the faith as missionary disciples

  • Catholic virtues and values and Catholic Social Teaching, which contribute to productive citizenship and responsible leadership

  • An environment that encourages and nurtures prayer and is safe, welcoming, and supportive for children

  • A favorable student to teacher ratio

  • High graduation and college attendance rates

  • Teacher commitment

For further reading and in addition to these benefits, explore NCEA’s A Dozen Reasons to Choose Catholic Schools Info Graphic.


A Brief History of Catholic Schools

Catholic education in the United States goes back to the early 1600s, but the establishment of Catholic schools began in the late 1700s. Saint Mary’s School, considered to be the first parochial school in the United States, was opened in Philadelphia in the year 1782. A few years later, in 1789, Georgetown University, a Catholic college, was established. Catholic schools and universities grew in number through the 1800s, and by 1900, there were about 3,500 schools in the country. Today, there are 6,289 Catholic schools in the United States, serving around 2 million students.

The goal of Discover Catholic Schools Week is to help families and students discover Catholic Schools and the opportunities and benefits they provide.

In 1809, Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, set up a school for poor children in Maryland. She worked throughout her lifetime on the creation of parochial schools to educate children. For these reasons, Elizabeth Ann Seton is sometimes considered the “Mother” of Catholic education. Express your gratitude to a teacher, parent, or student with a Catholic Schools Appreciation Card featuring an inspirational quote from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Express your gratitude to a teacher, parent, or student with a Catholic Schools Appreciation Card featuring an inspirational quote from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Download Now

Celebrating and Supporting Catholic Schools Today and in the Future

Catholic schools and religious education programs are ever the same in mission, message, and rigor; yet ever changing in delivery. Technology and the media play a big role in this new environment, thereby calling for greater flexibility. In their webinar Catholic Education—Ever the Same, Yet Ever New, Paul Sanfrancesco, MEd, and Lou DeAngelo, EdD, explore how to treat these changes and challenges in catechesis as opportunities.



Be sure to check back to the Sadlier Religion Blog in January to get Catholic Schools Week 2021 resources!