A Catholic Schools Week Message from Bishop Mark


Will Hegemann loves school and attending Mass every week with his classmates. Even at his young age, the first grader at Saint Michael School in Loretto realizes how lucky he is to be in a learning environment in which Jesus Christ is the center of everything. Will is also blessed to have the loving support of his family, including his mom, Bridget, and his grandmother, Mary Jane — both Saint Michael School alums. They see Will following in their footsteps as he receives an outstanding education and grows stronger in his relationship with God.

Will’s family is one of many families that represent the great tradition of Catholic education here in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. They are three generations who embody the theme of Catholic Schools Week 2021: Faith. Excellence. Service.

Our Catholic schools are amazing places where students encounter the Lord and share the incredible journey of faith with each other. With the support of parents, the guidance of awesome teachers, and the use of the latest technology and curriculum, students are challenged every day to reach their full potential. Striving for excellence in the classroom supports their call to service of others as missionary disciples who encourage everyone to know who they are and to focus on their place in God’s plan.

For all these reasons, I am proud of our schools. This year, I am especially proud to witness the dedication of everyone as they safely meet the challenges of a pandemic. Whether in person or remotely, Faith, Excellence, and Service are alive and well in the Catholic schools of Altoona-Johnstown.

As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2021, I extend prayers, gratitude, and congratulations to our students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, pastors, and everyone else who supports the great mission of Catholic education. Young Will is right to be excited about his school and his faith, and Bridget and Mary Jane are surely proud to see him continue the cherished Saint Michael family tradition. I look forward to similar stories from other families as we spotlight the multiple generations of Catholic school students and alums in our diocesan media. May God continue to bless them, and may everyone continue to shine in Faith, Excellence, and Service!