The Catholic Commentator

Acknowledging that Catholic schools help “plant the seeds of faith” so students can excel academically and spiritually, Dr. Melanie Verges, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, welcomed guests and parishioners to the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass on Feb. 3.

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Principals and students present gifts for the needy of the community shortly before the 2016 Catholic Schools Week Mass begins. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  


The liturgical celebration, led by Bishop Robert W. Muench and concelebrated by several other priests from around the diocese, was held at Holy Family Church.

The morning Mass was just one of many events planned to showcase the value of a Catholic education during Catholic Schools Week Jan. 31- Feb. 6.

“We are privileged we have the opportunity to have an education (in Catholic schools) that teaches us about Jesus and to form a community of faith in our schools, in our diocese and beyond,” Bishop Muench said in his homily as he reflected on the important work being done both inside and outside of the classroom.

Some of that work could be seen before Mass as principals and one student from each of the diocese’s 29 schools presented items collected for the needy. From diapers to food, these items, which represent the type of Gospel-based service inherent in a Catholic education and fulfill the 2016 theme of Catholic Schools Week, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” will be used by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

“Donations from the school kids will help homeless mothers, children and refugee families get a new start when they graduate from our programs and reestablish their homes,” said David Aguillard, executive director of Catholic Charities.

Following the Catholic Schools Week Mass, special presentations were made to three educators. Carolyn Murphy of St. Aloysius School received the 2016 Distinguished Diocesan Elementary Teacher award. Dr. Cynthia Ryals of St. Alphonsus Ligouri School was named the 2016 Distinguished Diocesan Elementary Principal, and Lisa Baldridge was selected as the 2016 Distinguished Diocesan Secondary Educator.

Msgr. Robert Berggreen was also selected the 2016 Distinguished Diocesan Elementary Pastor.

In addition to these presentations, several teachers were honored for their many years of dedicated service including John Gerbrecht with 45 years and Laurie Aicklen, Janell Bannon and Glynis Davis each with 40 years of service.

Before Catholic Schools Week began, each school in the diocese selected an outstanding graduate. These graduates, representing an array of careers and ages, were honored during a dinner at the Renaissance Hotel on Feb. 1. Sports radio announcer Matthew Moscano, the distinguished graduate from Catholic High School, was the featured speaker and offered many reasons why he is proud of his Catholic school education.