More than 500 Catholic school clergy, faculty and staff members gathered for Mass on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to usher in the new academic year. The alliance of 31 Catholic elementary and high schools throughout the Diocese of Grand Rapids along with Aquinas College were represented. Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew by Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids.

“I am grateful to the pastors, boards, principals and teachers who serve our students and families from preschool through high school,” said David Faber, superintendent of Catholic schools. “We anticipate serving our largest preschool class in 22 years, and our largest kindergarten class in seven years. We are also excited about the great initiatives happening through our strategic plan, ‘Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future,’ now entering its second year of implementation.”

Throughout the coming school year, specific initiatives include focusing on continued updates to our K-8 religion curriculum including incorporation of the Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II’s teaching on the vision of the human person; culturally-responsive teaching to serve a diverse student body representative of the universal Church; and strategies in mathematics to encourage students’ critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Before Mass, attendees heard a keynote from Gloria Purvis, one of the hosts of EWTN Catholic Radio’s “Morning Glory” show. She shared reflections on the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

See photos from the day’s events in the gallery below or at this link.

The first day for most schools in the diocese is Thursday, Aug. 22.

To learn more about Catholic school education, or locate a school near you to schedule a tour or begin enrolling, visit