Catholic Schools: Celebrating Catholic education in the diocese

By Ned Vanders, Ed.D.

Guest Columnist

Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Austin (CSDA) recently celebrated National Catholic Schools Week Jan. 27-Feb. 2. During that week, Catholic schools hosted open houses, promoted vocations, and thanked teachers, parents and community volunteers.

As part of the observance of National Catholic Schools Week, the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Stewardship and Development presented the Celebrating Catholic Schools Dinner and Awards Ceremony. Now in its fifth year, the dinner was attended by more than 630 people. The celebration recognized and honored individuals from our Catholic schools who give so generously of their time, talent and treasure to promote Catholic education. The evening also raised funds for tuition assistance, which will be returned to Catholic schools in the diocese.

Father Leo Patalinghug, known for his ministry "Grace Before Meals," which is an apostolate to strengthen families and communities around the dinner table, was the keynote speaker. During the evening’s celebration, he shared the importance of family and mealtime. Having attended Catholic elementary and high school, he addressed the effect a Catholic education had on his life.

National Catholic Schools Week signals the beginning of the application process for the 2013-2014 academic year. Returning and new families are now submitting their registration documents to the Catholic school of their choice.

For parents seeking high-quality, faith-based education, the 23 Catholic schools of the Diocese of Austin are dedicated to educating our children to be fruitful, moral members of our society. CSDA joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in their mission to "to provide an atmosphere in which the Gospel is proclaimed, a community in which Christ is experienced, service to our sisters and brothers is the norm, and thanksgiving and worship of our God is cultivated" ("Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium," 2005). CSDA provides the highest of academic preparation, coupled with the broad enrichment opportunities that nurture our children’s minds, bodies and souls.

Students in Catholic schools are taught to value the dignity of human life in others – and themselves – and understand that they are expected to exhibit that respect. Thanks to their common goals and interests, a strong bond forms between families, students, staff and parishes of Catholic schools. Catholic school teachers are supportive and knowledgeable, with high expectations of achievement for every student. And Catholic schools share the financial burden with families by providing financial aid whenever possible. This school year, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Austin provided $3.6 million in financial assistance to families.

As faith-filled institutions, Catholic schools emphasize those values that teach students to differentiate right from wrong, to have compassion for those who are less fortunate, and to serve as positive role models for others in their community. In addition, service learning and community service projects are integral parts of the Catholic school experience. Catholic school students are challenged to find ways to make a difference in their communities, both while in school and after they graduate. Catholic school graduates have been known to be more likely to go on to serve society.

CSDA offers excellent Catholic school opportunities for your child’s education! Find out more about our exciting schools and their commitment to the highest academic, moral and spiritual standards at I invite you to look through the pages of the website to discover what our Catholic schools have to offer and to contact the school’s principal or admissions director for more information.

Dr. Ned Vanders is diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Contact him at (512) 949-2497 or

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