On Friday, September 11, 2017, over 300 students gathered on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul to celebrate the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The celebration signaled the opening of the 234th consecutive year for Catholic education in the region.
The several hundred students in attendance represented young people from the 119 parish and regional Catholic elementary schools, 17 Archdiocesan high schools, and four Archdiocesan Schools of Special Education in City of Philadelphia as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.
Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, who oversees the Office of Catholic Education, and Mr. Christopher Mominey, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary for Catholic Education, addressed students, parents, faculty, administrators, and staff members in the crowd prior to the pep rally.
Bishop Fitzgerald led everyone in prayer saying, “We come to you, as we begin this new academic year, to ask your blessing upon all of the students, school families, teachers, and administrators in our Catholic Schools.” Bishop went on to say, “We recall the tragic events of terror in our own land on September 11, 2001. As we pray anew for all who were victims that day, we pledge to work for greater peace and justice everywhere.”
High School students from Our Lady of Confidence Day School, Wyncote (Montgomery County), one of the four Archdiocesan Schools of Special Education, served as greeters for students and guests.
The morning also featured choral performances by the Bishop Shanahan High School Acapela Ensemble, Downingtown (Chester County), and the Saint Francis De Sales Elementary School Choir (West Philadelphia).
In his message Mr. Mominey shared his five hopes for this coming school year, “I hope that each of our students come to know, love and serve the person of Jesus Christ in a more meaningful way; I hope that each student reaches their potential in all academic and extra-curricular program, no matter their grade or school; I hope that our teachers continue their tireless efforts to deliver only their best in instruction and teaching each day that they enter the classroom; I hope that our school leaders reflect deeply on the impact they have on the culture of their individual schools and work to shape an environment that fosters excellence in teaching and learning; and I hope that our pastors, our co-workers in the mission of education, are able to rejoice in the good work that Catholic schools do for the future of the Church and that they remain proud of our students and their accomplishments.”
The event concluded with a pep rally featuring the Conwell-Egan Catholic High School Cheerleading Squad, Fairless Hills (Bucks County), and the Cardinal O’Hara High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Springfield (Delaware County). In addition, mascots from many Archdiocesan high schools competed in a race judged by the Phillie Phanatic. The Lion from Cardinal O’Hara High School took the crown by besting the BurrMan from West Catholic Preparatory High School (West Philadelphia) and the Raider from Archbishop Ryan High School (Northeast Philadelphia) in the final round of competition.
A drone was used to capture additional aerial footage and the event was streamed live on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools website at www.aopcatholicschools.org.
Editor’s Notes: For information about Faith in the Future please visit faithinthefuture.com/.