By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie, fielded questions from a tough audience of kindergartners Monday afternoon.
“How do you become a bishop?” “What is the Erie Diocese?” “Do you grade the papers?”
That was what inquisitive little ones in Katie Tiefenthal’s kindergarten class at Blessed John Paul II Elementary School in Hermitage demanded to know.
The bishop was in town to kick off Catholic Schools Week, starting by celebrating Mass with the three schools that make up the Kennedy Catholic Family of Schools. “We honor and recognize the value of a Catholic education,” he said.
The theme for this 40th year of celebration is “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
“There is a different way of focusing on each theme,” said Victoria Wagner, principal of Kennedy Catholic Middle School. “In our parish, community, students, nation and vocations.”
What makes Catholic schools different?
“The balance of knowledge and faith,” Bishop Persico said. “Students develop a relationship with Christ.”
Bishop Persico said that schools all over the Erie Diocese are celebrating the Catholic faith by taking part in service activities.
What are the kindergartners doing?
“We do a lot of fun stuff,” said one of them.
One of those fun things is “Dollars for doggies.” They collect dollars from their jeans’ days to give to the Humane Society of Mercer County.
“In December they collected 121 books to give to kids in Children’s Hospital” in Pittsburgh, Tiefenthal said.
Planned activities this week will recognize students, and service projects spanning the week make it a special celebration of the Catholic faith for the kids.
Students will be the focus on Wednesday.
“Heavenly Helpers,” students who are the “go-to” kids, will be honored at a special breakfast.
“These students do something just because it’s the right thing to do,” Wagner said.
At the middle and high schools, kids will come together today and Wednesday for “Hoops for Hearts,” a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
Wrapping up Catholic Schools week, students will write letters thanking their parents for all they do to make it possible for them to attend a private school.
Bishop Persico said he will visit many of the schools in the Erie Diocese this week, either in person or by videoconference.