Catholic Schools Week Masses, activities are being planned with a nod to safety

“Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service” is the theme for National Catholic Schools Week, which begins this Sunday, Jan. 30, and runs through next Saturday, Feb. 5. This the 48th year for the observance, which is sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association.

The pandemic may be making things difficult, but the 43 Catholic schools and academies within the Diocese of Peoria are still planning Masses and activities to celebrate those who make Catholic education possible and why it is so important. The themes for each day are:

  • Sunday, Jan. 30: Celebrating Your Parish
  • Monday, Jan. 31: Celebrating Your Community
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1: Celebrating Your Students
  • Wednesday, Feb. 2: Celebrating the Nation
  • Thursday, Feb. 3: Celebrating Vocations
  • Friday, Feb. 4: Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: Celebrating Families

This listing was compiled from information provided to The Catholic Post. It will be updated here as new information is received.

Please be aware that some opportunities for prayer or public events may change due to safety protocols required to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.


Central Catholic High School: Students will dress in the colors of eight countries with strong Catholic traditions and compete in athletic and academic contests throughout the day on Feb. 3 for a Catholic Schools Week Olympics. An all-city Mass will bring together students from Central Catholic, St. Mary, and Corpus Christi, all in Bloomington, and Epiphany in Normal at St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington, on Feb. 4. A spaghetti dinner will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m. to support Birthright, the senior charity. The price is $7 per person or $4 for children 10 and younger. Basketball games against St. Joseph-Ogden are scheduled for 6 p.m. (junior varsity) and 7:30 p.m. (varsity).

Corpus Christi School: Students will make spiritual bouquets for their priests, Father Dustin Schultz, pastor, and Father Martin Mwongyera, parochial vicar, at St. Patrick Church of Merna; and Father Jeffrey Stirniman, pastor of Holy Trinity and Historic St. Patrick. The school will kick off the week by hosting a breakfast for the teachers, and end the week by hosting a luncheon for the teachers from St. Mary School, Corpus Christi School, and Central Catholic High School, all in Bloomington, and Epiphany Catholic School in Normal, “to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.”


Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy: On Jan. 31, guests will read a favorite story to each class, and parents will discuss their professions. Eucharistic adoration for consecrated life and vocations is planned for Feb. 2, and students will send cards to area religious women and men, and priests. There will be a Mass and honors assembly on Feb. 3, with students going out to lunch with their parents. Faculty and staff will be blessed on Feb. 4, and there will be a pizza lunch for them and school volunteers.


St. Mary School: On Jan. 31, students will be treated to a movie and popcorn in the school gym. The next day, they will show their appreciation for their teachers by writing and posting a note in the cafeteria about their favorite “teacher” memory in any class, and there will be a special lunch for the teachers. An all-school Mass is planned for Feb. 2. Parents and grandparents will be the special guests at Mass on Feb. 4, with a video written and created by the students to offer their thanks.


Carroll Catholic School: Students will bring in food pantry donations each day. There will be an all-school assembly on Jan. 31, and students will write thank-you letters to Father Joe Dondanville, pastor, Father Narcis Katambe, parochial vicar, and Sister Lori Kirchman, OP, music director. A living rosary is planned for after the 8:30 a.m. Children’s Mass on Feb. 2, with everyone welcome to attend. As the week closes on Feb. 4, students will dress as a family member. There will be a talent show at 2 p.m. and a family skate night.


St. Paul School: Special events include a free-throw contest for kindergarten through fourth grade from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 31, and a basketball scrimmage for fifth and sixth grades. There will be a hobby fair from 10:30 to 11:10 a.m. on Feb. 1, and students will also have Sundaes with Father at lunch. A luncheon for the teachers will be hosted by the Home and School Association on Feb. 3. There will be a school Mass at 9:15 a.m. on Feb. 4, and charity carnival from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Students will write thank-you notes to the parish and their parents, and make cards for nursing home residents throughout the week.


Seton Catholic School: An all-school Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31 and livestreamed on Seton’s Facebook page. Students will complete and take home thank-you projects for their families on Feb. 1. Teachers and staff members will be treated to lunch on Feb. 2, and the seventh- and eighth-graders will attend Mass at Alleman High School in Rock Island on Feb. 3. Students may wear what they want on Feb. 4, and will have pizza and ice cream sundaes for lunch.


Immaculate Conception School: Students will welcome Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, diocesan vocation director of recruitment, and hear his vocation story. Father Timothy Hepner, pastor, will lead a procession with blessed candles before Mass for the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2. During the week, the school will partner with local restaurants to raise money for Right to Life, Jamieson Community Center, and Western Illinois Animal Shelter. A talent show is planned.


Blessed Sacrament School: Activities include an open house following the 8 and 9:30 a.m. Masses on Jan. 30, with registration for preschool and kindergarten at 10:30 a.m. Students will work to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria throughout the week. A rosary will be prayed daily, and an all-school Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 4. There will be a volleyball game between the eighth-graders and the faculty at 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 3. Teachers and staff will be treated to lunch by the PTO on Feb. 4.


Sts. Peter and Paul School: For their service project during Catholic Schools Week, students will collect pledges for HUGS (Helping Us Give Support) and participate in “HUGS Hoopla” activities on Feb. 2. HUGS in Hancock County is a nonprofit cancer support group that provides emotional, spiritual, medical, financial and social support. The week will kick off at the 10 a.m. Mass on Jan. 30 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, followed by a breakfast at the school. At the end of the week, there will be an all-school Mass at 8:30 a.m., and a talent show at 10 a.m., which is open to visitors.


Epiphany Catholic School: The St. Nicholas Charity on Wheels, sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria, will benefit from the Catholic Schools Week service project at Epiphany, with students bringing in items. Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, diocesan vocation director of recruitment, will talk about faith and vocations on Feb. 2. Junior high students will attend the Mass for Bloomington/Normal Catholic schools at St. Patrick Church of Merna on Feb. 4, while students in kindergarten through fifth grade will attend Mass at Epiphany Church.


Notre Dame High School: Lumen Christi will decorate the school on Jan. 30 in preparation for Catholic Schools Week. Cards of appreciation and thanks will be made for the teachers and staff on Feb. 1. An all-school Mass will be celebrated on Feb. 2, and there will be an all-school rosary on Feb. 4. Adoration will be available throughout the day.

St. Jude School: The second-graders will host an all-school March for Life. A book fair is planned, and the students will face the staff in a “Minute to Win It” competition.

St. Philomena School: The week will begin with a parade through the school, led by the Peoria Notre Dame band, with students carrying flags representing Peoria-area Catholic schools as a show of support. Each grade is also offering a spiritual bouquet for the school assigned to them. St. Philomena will close the week with a eucharistic procession through the building. Both prayer opportunities are a way to celebrate the school’s theme for the year, “Opening Wide the Doors to Christ.”


St. Thomas the Apostle School: There will be an open house from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 30, and tours will be provided for interested families. The service project for the week is the annual Super Bowl canned food drive, starting Feb. 1. In addition, cards will be made for medical professionals who have been caring for patients with COVID-19. A school assembly is planned for Feb. 3, which will include the annual volleyball game between the eighth-graders and the faculty and staff. The Student Council will sponsor a luncheon for the faculty and staff on Feb. 4. Students will hear from guest speakers — in person and virtually — throughout the week.


St. Bede Academy: Initial plans were to celebrate Mass for each class — freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors — and then treat them to breakfast sandwiches and other goodies.


St. Thomas School: The staff will have a special lunch on Feb. 1. Father Keith Walder, pastor, will lead an all-school rosary at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 2, and Bible trivia will be played in homeroom. Eighth-graders will face the staff for a volleyball game that will be livestreamed from the Trost Gym at 1 p.m. The service project for the week is collecting nonperishable food items for the St. Patrick Food Pantry.


St. Mary School: A faculty/staff appreciation day will have the students dress like the teachers and the teachers dress like the students on Feb. 1. A prayer service is planned for Feb. 2. Students may dress like a saint, Sister or priest on Feb. 3.


St. Malachy School: The community is invited to a meal of “Joe’s Fried Chicken” on Jan. 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Rantoul Knights of Columbus Hall. The meal, which also includes mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable, roll and drink, will be available for a free-will donation. Other activities for the week include a religion bee, skyping with seminarian Patrick Wille, and a free-throw contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The week will end with a school Mass, followed by “Tiger Pride” family games.


Alleman High School: Students will have a “dress down donation day” on Jan. 31, with money going to NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley to help persons living with a mental health condition and provide education and support. Students will also pray for economic restoration for the community, including restoration to physical, mental and spiritual health. On Feb. 2, students will be invited to write letters to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris regarding Catholic education and why it’s so important that they are able to choose Catholic schools. In addition, there will be an all-school Mass with area pastors concelebrating. On Feb. 3, the school will celebrate vocations, and videos submitted by priests, Sisters, and married and single faculty and staff members will be shared during theology classes.

Jordan Catholic School: Among the week’s activities is a poetry contest for students in grades five to eight on the topic, “What Jordan Catholic School has done for me.” Each grade will write and send cards to community groups, thanking them for their service. The fourth-graders will complete a saint project on Feb. 2 and hold a parade through the school. Junior high students will visit Alleman High School for a tour and Mass on Feb. 4. The day also includes a luncheon for the staff and teachers, with eucharistic adoration available all day, concluding with Benediction, at St. Pius X Church.

Information on Catholic Schools Week activities continues to arrive. If you don’t see your school here, consult the parish bulletin, contact the school directly, or visit the school or parish website. This list will be updated as needed.

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