A Catholic Schools Week Message from the Director of Education


Dear Families,

For the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Catholic Schools Week begins January 29th. This is a joyous celebration in Catholic education, when we take time out of the busy day-to-day schedules, to pause and think about the blessings our Catholic Schools provide to our families. The celebration this year centers on the theme of “Faith. Excellence. Service.” These are the very tenets our Catholic Schools are built upon. This year, as always, we have so much to be grateful for in our schools, and to the families that form our School communities.

It is fitting that faith is the first focus in the theme of Catholic Schools Week, as this is the first focus in the mission of Catholic education, stemming from the belief in and love of Christ. Families are the first teachers in the faith; not only in their religious practices, but in raising their children with love, respect, and a strong sense of morals and values. We are fortunate to have classrooms filled with students who have already been shown how to walk-in Jesus’ footsteps. It is through these family beginnings that teachers can continue to help students grow in their faith. The strong foundation you have provided for your child will carry them into their adult lives. A Catholic school foundation backed by a strong family unit is one that allows the faith to carry into future generations.

Excellence is demonstrated in our schools in ways that extend beyond the traditional scope of academics. Catholic education supports the education of the whole and individual child, with rigorous academics and support of music, art, athletics, technology, and STREAM initiatives. Through our incredible teachers, Catholic Schools can offer a variety of programs, which allow students to have unique learning experiences.

We are immeasurably thankful for the teachers, who have demonstrated their excellence both in and out their classrooms. We are also thankful for our families for the excellence they have shown in their support of teachers and our schools. Without this partnership, academic excellence would be impossible. It is through the two-fold support of teachers and families that our students grow in academic, spiritual, and social excellence.

It is a unique privilege to serve students and families through Catholic education. Through the service of our teachers and the service our families provide for their children, our children learn to serve others. Acts 20:35 reminds us that…”It is more blessed to give than to receive…” This spirit of giving is alive in our Catholic School communities, as students learn, not only to give through material items, such as food and clothing and sneaker drives, they also learn the importance of the love they give to others. This is a reflection of the foundation provided by their families; for a student to understand that the love they give can change the world.

Our schools are blessed with families within their communities who make the sacrifice to send their children to Catholic Schools. This is not always an easy decision, especially during these hard economic times. The gift of sending a child to a Catholic School is providing them with a foundation for life through faith, excellence, and service; qualities we see reflected not only in our schools but in the families that comprise our school communities. Thank you for your continued faith in the mission of Catholic education and for entrusting your most precious gift to our school communities, your children.

Yours in Faith,

Jo-Ann Semko
Director of Education