The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2017, which officially began yesterday, is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” This annual celebration provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on the many people whose efforts combine in the Catholic mission of the 32 Cristo Rey Network schools. We are grateful to the bishops who welcome and champion our schools in their dioceses. We celebrate our remarkable partnership with the 38 Religious Sponsors and Endorsers whose charisms shape and help ensure the Catholicity of our schools. We recognize the gifted teachers who engage our students in four years of rigorous religious studies coursework and the creative campus ministers and student affairs staff who ensure opportunities both for liturgy, prayer and reflection and for community engagement, advocacy and service. The distinctive Catholic identity of our schools, however, extends far beyond religious studies classrooms and service activities. It is reflected in our focus on the underserved, our embrace of students of all faiths, and our strong community connections. It animates our bedrock belief in the God-given dignity and potential of every student and in education in the classroom and the workplace as the route to unleashing their talents. It encourages our students, our school leadership, faculty and our staff to explore unapologetically the meaning of religion, faith and spirituality in their lives and challenges them to live their lives in service to others and the common good. This is the dynamic Catholic culture that permeates our schools and we are indebted to every member of the Cristo Rey family for its creation, development and flourishing.
Jane E. Genster