WASHINGTON, D.C. — In observance of the annual National Catholic Schools Week, which concluded Feb. 5, Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, thanked Catholic educators for forming students in the Catholic faith.

“Catholic schools provide the nation with a model of education and formation,” he said, adding that they teach students to develop humility and wisdom that prompts them to serve God and others.

In his Feb. 7 statement, the bishop, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, also assured educators of his prayers for them in the “critical mission they serve.”

Daly said Catholic social teaching “instills a love of community and country with graduates contributing to civil society at all levels, most notably among our nation’s leaders, including at the highest levels of government and public service.”

He also thanked Congress for recognizing the impact of Catholic education with a bipartisan resolution introduced in the House and Senate supporting the contributions of Catholic schools.

The resolution stated in part that “Catholic schools instill a broad, values-added education emphasizing the lifelong development of moral, intellectual, physical and social values in young people in the United States.”

It described Catholic schools as “an affordable option for parents, particularly in underserved urban areas” and says they “produce students strongly dedicated to their faith, values, families and communities.”

The resolution also supported “the dedication of Catholic schools, students, parents and teachers across the United States toward academic excellence and the key role they play in promoting and ensuring a brighter, stronger future for the nation.”

According to the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic school student enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is nearly 1.65 million in more than 6,000 schools. Of the total enrollment, 21.4 percent of the students are from racial minority backgrounds, 18.6 percent are from Hispanic heritage, and 20.1 percent are from non-Catholic families.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on Catholic schools. More than 200 schools closed in 2020 and 71 schools closed in 2021.