Catholic schools through the Archdiocese of Washington will join their counterparts throughout the country in celebrating National Catholic Schools Week. For more than 40 years, the last week in January has been set aside to focus on the good work being accomplished in our Catholic schools.

National Catholic Schools Week this year will be observed Jan. 25–31. The theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

The National Catholic Educational Association, which sponsors the annual event, said this year’s theme focuses on “the value that Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Catholic Church, local communities and the nation.”

About 27,000 students attend 68 Catholic elementary schools, 20 Catholic high schools and seven early childhood centers in the Archdiocese of Washington. Catholic schools in this archdiocese serve students and their families in the District and in the five surrounding Maryland counties of St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert, Prince George’s and Montgomery. Twenty-seven schools in the archdiocese have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools in the 30-year history of the award.

More than 99 percent of students in Catholic high schools graduate, with the majority of them continuing on to college.

“In our Catholic schools we bring something to those we teach that no one else can,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl noted in his Catholic Standard column this week in which he writes about Catholic Schools Week. “These communities of faith, knowledge and service offer a better life both now and in the world to come, not only for the students, but for all of those whose lives are touched by the good example, good deeds and faith of our graduates.”

Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese of Washington are planning to celebrate Catholic Schools Week with open houses and other special events. For a list of open houses for perspective students and their parents and for more information about Catholic schools, visit www.catholicschoolswork.org.

Catholics in every parish in the Archdiocese of Washington help support Catholic schools and to make a Catholic education more affordable and accessible for families. Since 2009, the archdiocese has followed a strategy that has strengthened and sustained our Catholic schools. Of the 139 parishes in the archdiocese, 112 have entered into regional school agreements.

The Archdiocesan Tuition Assistance fund awarded $5.7 million to students this school year, which amounts to more than a six-fold increase since 2007-08.

“Catholic schools are important because they bring a vision of belonging to something bigger than ourselves – they work to build a sense of community in Christ,” Cardinal Wuerl wrote in his column. “Students in the nearly 100 Catholic schools here in the Archdiocese of Washington know that they are not alone in some impersonal institution but are instead members of a living community.”

About 2.1 million students are currently enrolled in nearly 6,600 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country.