A celebration of excellence

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Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde visited St. Luke School in McLean the week before Christmas to congratulate Principal Louis M. Silvano, his staff and the students for being named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.

The bishop said he was delighted to be able to congratulate the entire school community - faculty, staff, students and parents - for being a shining, outstanding example of a Catholic school.

St. James School in Falls Church was the other diocesan school recognized this year. It was the second time the school received the honor.

"In every Catholic school, you are learning how to be a faithful member of God's people, the church, and a citizen of our nation," Bishop Loverde said in his homily.

"You are learning how to be kind and share, and how to forgive.

"I am proud of each of you and grateful to all those who sacrificed to allow this school to be stable and successful," he said.

The bishop noted that more than 50 percent of diocesan schools have received Blue Ribbon recognition.

"May you be the Blue Ribbon School of faith, hope and charity, shining brightly with the presence of the Lord and His saving power," the bishop said.

The Mass was concelebrated by Father David L. Martin, St. Luke's pastor; Father Anthony J. Pinizzotto, parochial vicar, and Father Jamie R. Workman, a priest in residence.

At the school assembly following Mass, Silvano said St. Luke's is a "mission-driven school" that was established more than 50 years ago. He said the school's heart can be found in its core values of honesty, empathy, achievement, respect and trust in God.

Silvano said the school is already looking beyond the Blue Ribbon award as it begins working on a new strategic plan.

Newly-elected U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, representing Virginia's 10th District, reflected on how she attended Catholic school in New Jersey, while her children attended St. John the Beloved School in McLean.

"What a gift the (Catholic) school is to the community, forming great citizens and people of faith," Comstock said.

"The relationships you build (at St. Luke's) will last for the rest of your lives," she told the students.

"Our Catholic schools really make a difference," Bishop Loverde said. "They engage the students in all their talents."

The bishop gave the students a day off from school, while Sister Bernadette McManigal, diocesan superintendent of schools, asked every teacher to pick one night and not give the students homework.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015