St. Timothy School students take part in the annual Catholic Schools Week rally Jan. 29, 2014, at the Arizona State Capitol. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
St. Timothy School students take part in the annual Catholic Schools Week rally Jan. 29, 2014, at the Arizona State Capitol. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Thousands of Catholic school students, educators and families will rally at the Arizona State Capitol on Jan. 28 to demonstrate their support and appreciation for school choice legislation. The noontime event will feature the Catholic bishops of Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey, and legislative leadership.

The rally at the State Capitol is just one way that Arizona’s 21,000 Catholic school students and the community participate in the national Catholic Schools Week celebration, which concludes Jan. 31.

Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The theme for 2015 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Church, communities and nation.

“Catholic Schools Week is a time for our families and educators to celebrate the integration of our faith with our high academic standards,” said MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Phoenix. “Our schools and students are committed to service, and make a significant contribution to Arizona and America.”

“We are most grateful to the Arizona Legislature for helping make school choice a reality, especially for those less fortunate, and this rally is way to express our appreciation,” said Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference.

Prior to the rally at the Capitol, students from all over the state will gather at 10 a.m. for Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix.

More than 14,000 students currently attend one of the Diocese of Phoenix’s 28 Catholic elementary schools, six high schools and 28 preschools throughout the Diocese of Phoenix. Students receive a rigorous, faith-filled education that prepares them for the challenges of higher education and a competitive world. An estimated 99 percent of students graduate from high school; 97 percent go on to attend college.

Catholic Education Arizona, co-sponsors of the State Capitol rally with the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Schools Office, is the largest provider of scholarships to low-income families attending private schools. Since its inception in 1998, the generosity of local individual and corporate contributors has allowed Catholic Education Arizona to continually increase scholarship funding for Catholic schools, beginning with students of families with the greatest financial need.

This year a record $17.4 million in contributions were made to assist nearly 50 percent of Catholic school students. To date over $126 million in tuition support has been awarded through over 87,000 scholarships to lower-income families with qualified financial need.