By Liz Sullivan
The Diocese of San Jose began its celebration of Catholic Schools Week on January 29 with Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, followed later in the evening with a Donor Thank You event at Archbishop Mitty High School.
This year’s theme was “We Believe.” That sentiment was strongly felt at the Mass in the morning and the event to conclude the day.
Addressing the dozens and dozens of students gathered in the Cathedral Superintendent of Schools Kathy Almazol reminded the children: “Don’t forget to say thank you to your parents for giving you this wonderful opportunity.”
Almazol gave a Reflection during the Mass at the invitation of Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, who was the celebrant. In November, Almazol announced she was retiring at the end of the current school year, after serving as Superintendent for the last nine years and 37 years as an educator in the Diocese. She began her career working in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
“It is truly a treat to be here,” said Almazol, who instituted the first Catholic Schools Week Mass nine years ago. “Today is special because it is the last time I will be here in this role and for many of you (addressing the students) it will be the last time you will be here. You have your whole journey ahead of you and to look forward to. I encourage you to think and to reflect what it means to receive gifts from God and what it means to do with them.” Reflecting on the Gospel from Saint John (15: 1-5, 7-10) in which Jesus presents himself as the true Vine and God is the Gardener and we the people of God are the branches, Almazol said, “God has provided a strong vine in which we can grow and that vine is Jesus Christ. Where do we find Jesus? In everyday life. I encourage you to get to know Jesus better.”
At the conclusion of Mass it was time for those involved in education in the Diocese to say thank you to Almazol for believing in Catholic education for so many years. Each of the 27 elementary schools and six high schools in the Diocese presented Almazol with a memory poster of something that happened with her at their school and they thanked her for her service.
“Thank you so much for all of this,” said Almazol afterwards. “I have been truly blessed to do this work and I have loved what I do because of you (the students).
“What can I say about Kathy?” said the Bishop. “She has been a courageous leader and one with vision and through it all Kathy has maintained a kind and gracious spirit. Thank you for the many years of service, for the example you have given us and the kindness of heart. I personally, will miss you.”
Later, at the evening event, it was time to say thank you to the dozens and dozens of parent volunteers without whom the schools in the Diocese would not be as successful.
“We cannot do this alone,” said Jacque Wright, Principal of Resurrection School, speaking on behalf of the principals. “By what you do, you show that you value Catholic education. You are a blessing to all of us.”
As is customary at the evening event, those assembled heard from a student who has greatly benefited from a Catholic education in the Diocese of San Jose. This year, Melissa Sanchez, a senior at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School and a graduate of Saint John Vianney School, spoke.
The high school will see its first graduating class this spring.
“My Catholic high school education is the greatest gift my parents could have ever given me,” said Sanchez. “This experience has grown my faith and continued my passion for serving others. The past 11 years are the best time any 17-year-old could ask for.”
To learn more about Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Jose, please visit www.dsj.org/education. More pictures from these events can be viewed here.