By: Carolina Scipioni 

Catholic Schools Week is always an exciting time for all of us, especially the opening Mass celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph every year. This year, the liturgy took place on Monday, January 27th and it was celebrated by Fr. Hao Dinh. As students and teachers representing our 28 elementary and 6 high schools in the valley came together in prayer, one couldn’t help but notice the colorful display formed by the different school uniforms that have characterized our Catholic schools for many years. Fr. Hao pointed out the different colors of school uniforms and asked students: “What is the common uniform that you all should wear?” The answer, he said, was “Love – In different colors: kindness, compassion, service, generosity, patience, forgiveness. Let us pray that we wear the uniform of love and grow in love each day, developing what is good in us.”  

Fr. Hao then shared the touching story of a woman who showed her compassion to others while she herself went through difficult times in her life. This woman became an orphan at 10 years of age; she lost her older sister a few years later and by the time she was 20, had also lost the uncle that had raised her. Despite her hardships, when she returned to her hometown and saw the needs of young girls without education and with no hope, she opened her house to help them learn about faith and to prepare them for sacraments.  Later, she gathered 28 other young women to join her in a mission to educate girls.  After her death, the group became the Ursuline Sisters dedicated to Catholic education.  “That woman”, Fr. Hao said, “is St. Angela Merici, whose memorial happens to be on this day that we celebrate and pray for Catholic schools.”   

In sharing St. Angela Merici’s own words – “Reflect that in reality you have a greater need to serve [the poor] than they have of your service.” – Fr. Hao turned to the students and invited them to follow her example. “You may or may not become a teacher like St. Angela, but in whatever career you choose, remember that it is not just about work, but about people, serving them, helping to make their lives better.”  

Each one of our Catholic schools offers a unique opportunity to develop the faithful citizens that Fr. Hao invited our students to be. Let us together celebrate the great gift of a Catholic education.  

To learn more about Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Jose, please visit schools. 

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