A brief explanation of Catholic Schools Week in San Antonio

Esteban Serrano, Lead Editor

Catholic School’s Week, a national week observing and acknowledging the existence of Catholic Schools in the United States took place earlier this month. Since 1974, it has been an annual celebration that San Antonio area schools and the Archdiocese never forget to celebrate.

Marti West, superintendent of Catholic Schools, and Claudia Gonzalez, a director of enrollment and advancement of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, shared the history of the traditional week from their points of view while giving their extended memories from their time working with the San Antonio area private schools.

“It started in 1974 and is sponsored by the NCEA [National Catholic Educational Association]. It connects all of our Catholic schools nationally, across the country,” West begins. “They started the celebration for us and what we have to offer as a system of schools. It’s a great opportunity to say thank you, and a great opportunity to thank us,” she states.

West also believes that the core value of community also is a huge factor in this celebration and what bonds Catholic schools together in likeness. “I’d say that’s one of the strengths of Catholic schools is that sense of community. And the community is not just while you’re in that school, but it’s a legacy. It’s even after you graduate.” She continues, “Even after you graduate, then you send your children to the same Catholic schools. It ends up being multi-generational.”

West continues, “I think it’s also a way for us to celebrate, what we do in Catholic Schools that really contributes to the greater society.” She expands and says, “There’s great leaders all throughout our country and throughout our community here in San Antonio that have attended Catholic schools and gained their formation in Catholic schools. And so it’s an opportunity to look outward in our schools currently, to see who came before us.”

West has been the superintendent for 8 years now. She says that celebrations were vamped up a few years back, including a special “get-together” for Catholic High School communities. “When I first started, I inherited where we would kick off Catholic Schools Week at the Cathedral with the Catholic High Schools. It was an Eight AM Mass on that Sunday and the Archbishop would kick it off, and then we would do recognition of the students during that morning, too. And after a couple of years, what we really recognized what that the schools wanted to be celebrating within their communities. So for us, as an Archdiocese, to hold a Mass, for example, at the Cathedral, took away local elements from the parishes and the schools and the pastors really had a desire to keep it on their campus.”

Gonzalez works directly with the schools more than West does. She was able to provide some context about the progression of this tradition, and what may be new as new generations begin to witness this years-old tradition. “It has been pretty consistent at the national level,” she says. “In terms of progressing, I would say it has been more evolving these past two years because of COVID. You know, one thing about our schools is that schools have shown so brightly throughout all of COVID, and offered the support and education and the emotional and academic support for all our students. So, I think, in terms of evolving, the schools have done a really good job still celebrating safely… celebrating everything they have done the past two years because it’s second-to-none in this community and around the country.”

Here at Central, celebrations took place, although light. However, the Archdiocese is certain that soon enough, following the complete and official dismissal of the pandemic, schools will get back to normal and uplifting celebrations very soon in the coming years.