I caught part of the Catholic Memorial vs. Hartland Arrowhead boys’ basketball game televised last Friday night on Channel 24 in the Milwaukee area. While the Crusaders came out on the short end of the 61-49 battle, one thing that caught my attention during the game were the doors to Catholic Memorial’s InPro Gym.

Yes, the doors.

As the television camera recorded the basketball game, I could see the windows on the doors to the gymnasium formed crystal-looking crosses as the light reflected in.

What a neat design – I would think done intentionally – to reinforce the faith-based nature of that facility.

As the game continued, the large cross in the gymnasium frequently was shown in the background, too.

It was evident this sporting event was taking place in a Catholic facility.

Only a few weeks earlier, during a meeting, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki shared with us some of what he sees as the defining elements of a Catholic school.

Not every school that calls itself Catholic is a genuine Catholic school, he said, noting that one of the things that makes a Catholic school a Catholic school is the presence of things such as crucifixes and religious symbols throughout.

These visible signs of our faith tell the world that what happens within the walls of the school takes place in a Christian setting, guided by the teachings of Christ.

That meeting with the archbishop led to one of the stories in this month’s Catholic Herald Family section. What sets a Catholic school apart and what makes it Catholic? Reporter Colleen Jurkiewicz took on the task of investigating this question and her story appears on Page 3. Being culturally Catholic – having Catholic textbooks and symbols on the walls such as the crucifix in the gymnasium — is only one such requirement, according to Kathleen Cepelka, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In the article, she highlights several of the other qualifications that set Catholic schools apart and describes how they exist to advance the teaching mission of the church.

This is the issue that publishes during Catholic Schools Week and it’s the issue we devote to the successes of Catholic education. In doing so, we don’t want to lessen the value of non-Catholic schools. Rather, we want to highlight some of the ways in which our Catholic schools are making a positive impact on our communities, local and beyond.

In putting the section together, I had the opportunity to meet a family who is celebrating that their daughter, as a freshman at Marquette University, will as mom, Marina Thompson puts it, “God willing and our check writing,” be the first in their family to experience Catholic education from first grade all the way through college.

What an inspiration they are, especially family matriarch, Mildred (Gray) Allison, who herself has only a third-grade education. Mildred lost her husband early – he was only 38 – yet she worked hard to provide a Catholic education for her five surviving children. Sure, at times, she resorted to the public schools, since Catholic education was too expensive, but she set a standard for her children, showing them what she valued.

Also this issue, don’t miss our other Catholic school features, including the story of a Delavan family who, in the memory of their parents, made a large donation to their former Catholic school to ensure the best in math education for today’s students.

Catholic education is not a choice every parent makes, but it’s a gift I’m glad my parents gave to me and my sisters, and it’s one my husband and I have chosen for our daughters.

Yes, it comes with great sacrifices, mainly financial, but I think every Catholic can agree that the contributions that Catholic school graduates make to our society are worth celebrating.