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Celebrating Catholic Schools Week Inclusively!

By: The Program for Inclusive Education

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) advocates for the intentional integration of inclusive practices and encourages you to lead with them during Catholic Schools Week (CSW)! The week’s themes give us a framework to reflect on the various communities who surround our Catholic schools. PIE offers our thanks to the members of these communities, as well as resources and ideas for celebration and connection with these community members with inclusion in mind. Please use them in your celebrations!

Sunday - Celebrating Your Parish 

We begin CSW 2022 by sharing a few documents from U.S. Catholic Bishops and professionals that reflect on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Church. 

Monday - Celebrating Your Community 

To kick off Catholic Schools Week 2022 at your school, consider a special prayer celebrating inclusion in your community, as well as ways to reach out into your community to strengthen partnerships, and/or make new connections. 

  • 1 Corinthians 12:13-27 offers us a message on unity and variety. 
  • Consider the Prayer for Inclusion by Dr. Christie Bonfiglio.

  • Be Open by Doreen Engel includes a number of powerful reflections on inclusion in Catholic schools. Integrate them into your weekly practices.
  • Consider ways to partner with a local organization that supports inclusion efforts. For organizations you already collaborate with, take a moment to thank them for their work in inclusive education! 

Tuesday - Celebrating Your Students 

Tuesday of CSW is a good day to celebrate the uniqueness of each community member. 

  • Consider an “All About Me” activity with students, highlighting individual strengths and areas to grow. 
  • Encourage a dress-up day focused on awareness of various disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome awareness socks, or Autism puzzle piece headbands). 
  • Focus on friendships and belonging. Consider social-emotional learning activities that help to strengthen connections and friendships for all students. 

Wednesday - Celebrating the Nation 

As we reflect on our nation today, explore the national organizations at the forefront of advocating and supporting inclusive efforts, some specific to Catholic schools. Here are just a few:   

Thursday - Celebrating Vocations 

By focusing on faith, knowledge, and service, Catholic schools prepare children to use their God-given talents to the fullest.

  • Did you know there are a number of saints with disabilities? Consider having students research the lives of the following:  
    • Saint Andre Bessette - learner who struggled 
    • Saint Bernadette - difficulty reading 
    • Saint Anna Pak Agi - learner who struggled
    • Saint John Vianney - learner who struggled
    • Saint Joseph of Cupertino - patron of people with intellectual disabilities 
    • Blessed Solanus Casey - learner who struggled
    • Saint Sesrvulus - patron of people with disabilities 
    • Saint Thomas Aquinas - slow to speak, and Doctor of the Church! 
  • God’s Wild Flowers by Pia Matthews has a number of stories of saints who pursued God’s call in life with various disabilities. 

Friday - Celebrating Staff, Faculty, and Volunteers 

The important work of inclusion could not happen without our staff, faculty, and volunteers. Take some time to celebrate their good work!  

  • Celebrate your colleagues, staff, faculty, and volunteers with simple acknowledgements of their talents, achievements, contributions, and recent notable growths. 
  • Send messages of gratitude for your team’s efforts, highlighting the investment into building an inclusive community. 

Saturday - Celebrating Families 

Parents, guardians, and other family members play a vital role in Catholic education. Not only do they volunteer at the school, they instill values and expectations for academic excellence in their children at home. 

  • Provide simple positive feedback about their child(ren). Highlight strengths, areas of growth, and positive contributions to the culture of inclusion in your classroom or school.
  • Communicate your appreciation of the inclusion of students with disabilities. Reach out to these families and share the special contributions made by their child.  
  • Highlight peer mentoring programs and students who are shining examples of building friendships and belonging for students on the margin. Inform parents of unique examples.
  • Consider ways to bless families with special needs. 

Additional NCEA resources to assist with Catholic Schools Week can be found here: CSW 2022.

The Program for Inclusive Education is humbled and blessed to partner with inclusive educators across the country. Thank you for your tireless efforts to support the mission of inclusion and your openness to welcome, serve, and celebrate every child!

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