Faculty and students of Catholic schools around the country have numerous festivities planned this week, and for good reason. They are celebrating Catholic Schools Week -- a nationally recognized event to honor what makes Catholic education unique. Schools across Onondaga County are contributing in their own ways this week, with events that began Jan. 27 and are culminating Feb. 2.
So what makes the Catholic schools special in Central New York?
"First and foremost it's a faith-based program that we offer," said Michael Colabufo, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Syracuse Diocese. "It's not that we have a time set aside for religion. Our Catholic identity -- our values morality and theology -- is woven into all of our lessons in a very living, conscious and active way."
Just two years ago, low student enrollment prompted Bishop James Moynihan of the Syracuse Diocese to close eight schools in Onondaga County. Four were reopened soon after the original decision was made.
Since then, enrollment has been on an upswing.
"I think parents have realized we're here to stay," Colabufo said. "It isn't that we're just surviving and another school will close in another year or two. We really want to emphasize the fact that Catholic education is thriving for generations to come in the Diocese of Syracuse."
Additionally, Catholic schools are not just for Catholics, which some people may not realize. Colabufo noted that 65 percent of the students at the Cathedral Academy of Pompei in Syracuse are not Catholic.
"Many of our parents that are not Catholic still value the virtues and the values that we promote all day long in the schools and would like that for their children as well."
Other factors in choosing a CNY Catholic education
The academic intervention support services have increased in the four Bishop's Academies and other schools within the Diocese, Colabufo said.