Bishop Paul Swain of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls was afraid the snow would get in his way, but he was able to celebrate Mass with the Aberdeen Roncalli community Wednesday afternoon.
"It's important to spend time at Roncalli so you know how much I, as your bishop, care and support you," he said.
Students from all schools in the Aberdeen Catholic School System came together to celebrate Catholic Schools Week with Swain. About 1,000 community members gathered in the Aberdeen Roncalli Junior/Senior High School for the service.
The Mass was a celebration of Catholic education. Students and staff members from the Holy Cross School in Ipswich also attended.
"I care about you and love all your students and staff," Swain said to the Roncalli community.
The theme for this year's National Catholic Schools Week is “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards.”
Swain said raising the standards extends outside the walls of the schools. He said it also meant increasing faith formation at all levels and raising the amount of faith in Jesus and personal spirituality.
There will be changes in classroom standards as well, with a revised catechism curriculum being introduced at the high school level. It features six study areas, Swain said.
Another change in the school will be the retirement of longtime athletic director Tom Murphy, who has been with the school system for 41 years.
"You will always be remembered for your dedication and devotion to Catholic education," said Roncalli School Board President Rick Kline.
Those attending rose to their feet and applauded Murphy.
Money was raised through a variety of fundraisers. Students could buy passes for no-uniform days and participate in penny wars.
Grade levels competed against each other to raise the most money. Coins placed in a vessel counted as positive points for the class.
Students in other classes could place paper bills into other classes' pots to negate some of the points raised.
"It was a creative way of raising funds by making it competitive," said senior Mitch Musel.