Today, students gathered on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul to celebrate the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The celebration signaled the opening of the 236th consecutive year for Catholic education in the region.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. was joined by Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, who oversees the Office of Catholic Education, leadership from the Office of Catholic Education and Faith in the Future Foundation to welcome students throughout the 119 parish and regional elementary schools, 17 high schools and 4 schools of special education back to school.
Christopher Yengbeh, an 8th grade student at Saint Martha Parish School in the far Northeast, opened the event by singing The Star Spangled Banner. Michelle Sicard, a senior at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Bucks County introduced Archbishop Chaput who led everyone in prayer and offer remarks.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. said, “My challenge to you, boys and girls—this year and every year, is to embrace the gift of Catholic education and to become leaders who serve others. The more you serve, the more you will see that small acts of Christian love are contagious.” He continued, “Your teachers and your parents will guide you as you accept that challenge at school, at home, and in everywhere you go. I’m grateful to them for their dedication and the sacrifices they make for you.”
Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, who oversees Catholic education in the Archdiocese said, “Catholic schools are a gift and we work every day to ensure they remain the most cost effective, high quality, academic options for families of all faith traditions throughout the Archdiocese.”
The event concluded with mascot races and a pep rally. The Burr-Man from West Catholic Preparatory High School took the crown by besting The Viking from Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Fairless Hills, Bucks County and the Eagle from Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Chester County. The Bishop Shanahan High School Marching Band under the direction of Mr. Charles Keating performed several selections for the crowd. Students were also treated to a surprise performance from the Pennsport String Band.
The event was streamed live from Archbishop Chaput’s Facebook page as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools Facebook page. Archived footage of the celebration is available in those locations.