Faith-Based Fun and Some Serious Lessons Learned during Catholic Schools Week

Next week is Catholic Schools Week. And even though we’re about to be bit by a bitter cold snap in the middle of a snowy winter, I anticipate a warm and welcoming week with lots of faith-based festivities. 

We start with an all-school Mass on Monday. What a great way to begin the week-long celebration. I always love to see our peer ministers providing music ministry, doing the readings, and being Eucharistic Ministers at Mass. They will also brave the cold on Tuesday morning as they deliver coffee and donuts to parents in their cars at morning dropoff. These students are true leaders. They’ve stepped up and are willing to tell their peers that they are young people of faith, sharing who they are in a very public yet humble way. 

We will also have a Catholic Schools Week medallion hunt and a Catholic Schools Week Trivia contest. Students can win a prize by getting all five trivia questions correct, and CLICK HERE to give it your best shot! The deadline for entry is Tuesday at 3 pm. A winner will be selected randomly from those with 100% correct answers. You are free to look up answers online before submitting! Two competitions – one for students and one for adults. All will be notified in an email if you are an award winner!

Next week our staff members will share why they’re passionate about working in a Catholic school over the PA announcement each morning. We’ve asked several students to tell us why they love attending Hill-Murray.  Here is one of the videos.  We will post the remainder on social media and our website next week.

At the end of the day (or the week), we are joining almost 1.7 million elementary and secondary students around the country to celebrate this special week. We are celebrating what it means to be a Catholic school, how much we appreciate being a faith-based community, and why we love Hill-Murray so much.

I still remember the wonderful chaos of Catholic Schools week when I attended Holy Childhood as a young girl in Saint Paul. Catholic Schools Week is so much more than fun and games. This week always reminds me of our deep and enduring commitment to every one of our students and to their academic, emotional, and spiritual growth. From the very beginning, Catholic school students have been challenged to learn, challenged to grow, and challenged each day to become the kind of citizens and leaders that God intends them to be, and our world so desperately needs.  

Another hallmark of Catholic education is service to others. Tomorrow, a group of students and two staff members will travel to Browning, Montana, on a mission trip to DeLaSalle Blackfeet School. There they will immerse themselves in the school culture, working with 4th – 8th grade students who live on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Students will spend time with community members learning more about their experiences and building connections. Blackfeet School is part of the international Lasallian network of schools to which Hill-Murray belongs.

We end Catholic Schools Week with our faculty and staff retreat on Friday. Like all Catholic schools, our goal at Hill-Murray is to cultivate caring, compassionate, and dedicated teachers and staff. The theme of our retreat this year is the Benedictine charism and Benedictine spirituality. Last year centered on our Lasallian charism, which focused on Gospel-based teaching and learning and how we show up for our students. This year we’ll provide our faculty and staff with a prayerful experience, ultimately, a time for reflection.

One of the sessions includes a deep dive into praying the Liturgy of the Hours, an ancient structured way of praying throughout the day, focusing especially on the Psalms. It’s an opportunity for our faculty and staff to attend to their own spiritual growth and allow God to refresh and renew their vocation as educators. I’ve been praying the Morning and Night Prayer  more regularly this year, and not only does it ground my day, but it has deepened my spiritual life – I am more aware of and notice His Presence everywhere.

Lastly, I can’t help but acknowledge that there’s a sacrifice to send a student to Hill-Murray. We never forget that sacrifice, and we never assume that it is easy. The investment parents and many others are making and the trust they place in our school reflects the commitment we share to bringing faith to life – not just next week – but every week throughout the year.