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The parental option to choose schools for their children will be emphasized during an awards ceremony and open-house programs as Catholic Schools Week is observed Sunday through next Saturday in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

"Catholic Schools -- a Parent's Choice," this year's slogan, "underscores the key responsibility parents have in educating their children," said Sister Catherine T. McNamee, president of the National Catholic Education Association.

"It also acknowledges that their support and involvement in our schools is vital to academic success."

Sister McNamee said about 9,000 Catholic schools serve about 2.6 million children nationwide, providing a $10 billion gift to the nation -- the additional amount it would cost public schools to educate all of the children who attend Catholic schools.

In the Buffalo Diocese, Catholic Schools Week will begin with an awards dinner at 6:30 this evening in the Hearthstone Manor, 333 Dick Road, Depew. Sister Patricia Burkard, former diocesan superintendent for elementary education, will be presented the St. John Neumann Award for her contributions to education by the State and Diocesan Federation of Catholic School Parents.

Five outstanding Catholic school educators will receive St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards. They are John Curtin of Catholic Central School in Buffalo, Sister Marilyn Ann Dudak of Cheektowaga, Barbara Shreder of Attica, Charlotte Smith of Niagara Falls and Sister Barbara Whelan of Lancaster.

Guests of honor include County Executive Gorski, Mayor Griffin, Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Edward D. Head, who will present awards, Auxiliary Bishop Donald Trautman and Bishop-elect Edward Grosz.

Typical of the events next week are those at:

Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, which is sponsored by 11 Buffalo parishes and operates on campuses at 1069 Delaware Ave. and 279 Lafayette Ave. Open house for prospective students and their parents will be held on both campuses from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

St. Louis Church, Main and Edward streets, where nearly 2,000 Catholic school youngsters will attend Mass on Wednesday.

St. Stanislaus School, 128 Wilson St., which will hold registration sessions from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. There will be a parent/grandparent luncheon Tuesday and a Mass for children and their families at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Christ the King School, 2 Lamarck Drive, Snyder, which will have an open house from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, a spaghetti lunch for parents at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and a Mass and awards program at 10:45 a.m. Friday.

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