Gov. Benigno R. Fitial acknowledged the value of Catholic education among the youth of the CNMI after endorsing Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 as Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, joining other Catholic schools across the nation in observance of the annual event.
Fitial signed the proclamation yesterday at the diocese's Joeten Daidai Social Hall in Chalan Kanoa, kicking off the weeklong celebration. The event was witnessed by church officials, students and staff of Mount Carmel School on Saipan and St. Joseph Catholic School on Tinian.
Both institutions are among the three Catholic schools in the Commonwealth. The third is the Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja on Rota.
The establishment of Mount Carmel School in 1952 heralded the beginning of Catholic education in the Northern Marianas, followed by the founding of Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja in 1989 and the St. Joseph Catholic School in 1997.
Four students from St. Joseph Catholic School, along with staff and parents, joined the proclamation signing, according to teacher Corazon Cepeda.
“We believe in the need to continue providing Catholic education on Tinian and we are pleased to be part of this event which would help the students increase their faith and socialize with fellow Catholic learners,” said Cepeda.
In his proclamation, Fitial affirmed the three schools' commitment to providing a safe, structured, and caring learning environment dedicated to developing each student's God-given potential. The proclamation was read by MCS students.
According to the governor, Mount Carmel School is “very dear” to him since he is part of the school's first batch of students.
“I am very blessed to be a product of Mount Carmel School and I am sure that all of you will be as proud as [I am] when you also graduate and continue to live the Catholic education that we cultivate here in Mount Carmel,” Fitial told his young audience.
The theme for the 2013 Catholic Schools Week observance is “Catholic Schools: Raise the Standards.”
Fr. Ryan P. Jimenez, diocese apostolic administrator, expressed hope that the values and teachings learned in Catholic schools will translate into action.
“Catholic education is not just about excellence in academics but it is about educating the whole person,” he told Saipan Tribune.
Mount Carmel School president Galvin Deleon Guerrero noted that the current school year marks the beginning of their implementation of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.
“It's important for our students to step up to the plate when it comes to meeting these higher standards and expectations for student performance,” he said. “The world is more competitive and everyone needs to improve what they do.”
Several activities have been lined up in observance of Catholic Schools Week, including community activities on Monday and a faculty and staff appreciation program on Wednesday.
The observance will culminate with the Family Night Celebration on Feb. 1, during which the school will announce the 2013 Distinguished Graduate, an award that recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has made a difference in the community as an outstanding public servant or leader.