“He did not make the lights. He (Jesus) is the Light,” St. Agnes pre-kindergartner Beckham Wilson told Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of the Grand Island Diocese during his visit to the school Wednesday morning. Hanefeldt was pleasantly surprised at the statement, which came as they talked about God creating people who then used their God-given talents to make things like TVs and lights.
“Oh, the lightbulbs are coming on today,” he said. “That’s great.”
Hanefeldt, along with Grand Island Diocesan superintendent Jordan Engle, traveled five hours from Grand Island to spend the morning with the students of St. Agnes during a church service and individual classroom visits. Their journey was a special treat for the students as a part of Catholic Schools Week. Hanefeldt and Engle visited all 12 Catholic schools in the Grand Island Diocese this week.
But their visit was just one part of the week-long celebration at St. Agnes. Each day of the week is devoted to celebrating some aspect of Catholic education. So far, the students have made a banner to hang in the church for Sunday’s Mass; put together 250 popcorn sacks and cards for health care workers, which were distributed on Monday; and recognized volunteers who have served on boards and committees for St. Agnes Catholic School on Tuesday. On Thursday, they will be talking about vocations, and Friday will be a fun day of Zoom bingo.
“Catholic Schools Week is a national celebration for Catholic schools across the country to celebrate the opportunity to grow in their faith while being in school,” principal Julie Brown said. “… I think it’s great for kids to be able to learn values and faith while learning education as well.”
Brown said that this year’s theme for the week is “Faith excellence in service,” which she felt was a great theme not just for Catholic schools, but for St. Agnes in particular.
“(Those) are three words that just really probably describe a Catholic school well,” she said. “I mean, obviously, we are working to build kids in their faith. Also, working toward excellence as not just academically, but also in character and as people. And then service is a big part of what we do here.”
Every year for Catholic Schools Week, St. Agnes students donate to a local charity. This year, students are gathering various items that moms with newborn babies might need and will be donating them to Options Pregnancy Center, a non-profit organization that is starting up to provide Christ-centered support and resources to women and families with unplanned pregnancies.
This year’s celebrations have looked slightly different than previous years just like everything else, but Brown said that it was important to her, the staff and the students at St. Agnes to keep the traditions going because not many communities have the same opportunities anymore.
“We feel incredibly privileged and blessed to still have our Catholic school here. You know, there were a lot of Catholic schools that didn’t make it through the pandemic,” she said. “We’re happy to, you know, be in person learning together. …I think maybe this year, more than ever, we’re a little more thankful, you know. I mean, sometimes we take for granted, you know, the blessings that we have, just because they’re always here. I think maybe this year more than ever we’re a little more appreciative.”