By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator  

Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Baton Rouge kicked off Jan. 27 with the annual Distinguished Graduates Banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge.  

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Following Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge, awards were presented to Glynis Davis, a teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, for Distinguished Educator; Ellen Lee, principal at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge, for Distinguished Administrator; and Father Gregory Daigle, pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine, for Distinguished Clergy. Pictured, from left, are Dr. Melanie Palmisano, superintendent of Catholic schools; Lee; Father Daigle; Davis; and Bishop Michael Duca. Photos by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator

 

A reception hour before the event was resplendent with smiling faces, hugs and laughter as honorees and their special guests gathered with faculty and clergy members of their alma maters.  

The 29 Distinguished Graduates credited their Catholic education with laying the foundation for success both professionally and personally. More than 350 people attended the banquet, which recognized graduates from several generations ranging from the Class of ’62 to the Class of ’05.  

Another important event during CSW, the Catholic Schools Mass, was celebrated at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge. More than 150 Catholic school students, faculty members and parents attended the Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael G. Duca along with priests from the Baton Rouge diocese including Father Tat Hoang CSsR, pastor of St. Gerard Church; Father Ed Chiffriller SSJ, Father Randy Cuevas, Father Chris Decker, Father Matt Dupre, Father Gregory Daigle, Father Matthew Graham, Father Cayet Mangiaracina OP, Father Jerry Martin, Father Tom Ranzino, Father Paul Yi and Father Tim Watson CSsR.  

Dr. Melanie Palmisano, superintendent for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, welcomed everyone to the Mass and thanked God “for the ministry of Catholic education.” She also noted the gifts received through a Catholic education.  

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Before the CSW Mass started, Catholic school students and their principals processed to the altar carrying gifts representing their donations.  

 

“Students, you are privileged to be in a Catholic school, where each day you learn about your faith and the world,” Palmisano said.  

She then pointed to opportunities for charity and leadership to help complete students’ education which would benefitt them now and in the future.  

“You will be able to take the Gospel values that you are taught today and apply them throughout your life, making this world a better place and helping you to become closer to God,” said Palmisano.  

During his homily, Bishop Duca noted the similarity between the Gospel reading of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed with Catholic education. The bishop said the seed that landed on fertile soil, with a good foundation and nutrients, thrived.  

“Your Catholic education cannot just grow on water, it has to have other aspects, it can’t just be book learning,” Bishop Duca told the students. “As a human person, you cannot just grow on just water, you need food, too … It’s the same thing with your mind. Your mind has to be fed. Your mind has to have its nutrients to bring it alive. It helps you to grow and understand the world, it helps you mature. And your education feeds your mind with knowledge with sciences, how the world runs and works; with math and biology, and calculus and physics later on.  

“But also you learn about art and creativity, you learn about literature and how to read … but all that is still not enough. You need something else, something that your schools provide … you learn about God in your life and with that you open a whole other dimension of who we are as human beings, that we’re created in God’s image and likeness. You open up within yourself a new potential, a new way of seeing things.”  

Following the Mass, Glynis Davis, a teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, received the Distinguished Educator Award; Ellen Lee, principal at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge received the Distinguished Administrator Award; and, Father Gregory Daigle, pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine received the Distinguished Clergy Award.  

Also, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome presented Bishop Duca and Palmisano with a proclamation for Catholic Schools Week. There was also a proclamation from Governor John Bel Edwards for the State of Louisiana as well as from East Baton Rouge Civil Parish, Iberville Civil Parish, Pointe Coupee Civil Parish, West Baton Rouge Civil Parish, along with the cities of Donaldsonville, Gonzales and New Roads. 

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The Catholic Schools Week Mass was celebrated on Jan. 29 at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge. More than 150 Catholic school students, faculty members and parents attended the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Michael G. Duca along with Father Tat Hoang CSsR, pastor of St. Gerard Church, and several priests and deacons from the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 

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More than 350 people attended the banquet, which recognized graduates from several generations ranging from the Class of ’62 to the Class of ’05. Father Paul Yi, pastor of St. George Church in Baton Rouge, talks with St. George School principal Jack Nelson before the event.  

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Catholic Schools Week (CSW) in the Diocese of Baton Rouge kicked off Jan. 27 with the annual Distinguished Graduates Banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge. The 27 Distinguished Graduates credited their Catholic education with laying the foundation for success both professionally and personally.