Friendships, faith and fellowship.
For Aimée Petra, Don Tabor and Ana Valdez, these are just a few of the benefits of attending a Catholic university - and the ties that continue to bind them to their college alma maters.
And alumni offices across the country strive to maintain similar connections with all of their graduates, through traditional and online communications such as alumni magazines, newsletters, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as mentoring programs, invitations to sporting events and special alumni gatherings.
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Friendships, faith and fellowship.
ACT scores of students in Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha are again above the state and national average.
Seniors who graduated from the archdiocese's 17 high schools in 2013 had an average composite score of 24.4, compared with the state's 21.5 and national average 20.9. The highest possible score is 36.
Archdiocesan scores have exceeded the state and national average for more than a dozen years, officials at the Catholic Schools office said. The ACT helps measure college preparedness in English, mathematics, reading and science.
When Tom and Janet Sobczyk's three children evaluated colleges they researched academic programs and visited campuses, reviewed financial aid packages and took into account class sizes.
They looked at public colleges and private, Catholic universities.
And one thing stood out as all three finally chose Jesuit-based Rockhurst University in Kansas City - the faith-filled environment of a Catholic college, said Janet Sobczyk of Holy Ghost Parish in Omaha.
"They felt a difference in the overall atmosphere on the Catholic school visits," she said.
Determined to retain a Catholic elementary school in Elgin despite a decline in enrollment and costly upkeep of a building constructed more than 100 years ago, parish and school leaders in the area brainstormed their way to an innovative solution.
They closed the school building, but retained the school.
The Catholic Voice honored more than 40 nuns in its Aug. 16 issue for their 50, 60 and 70 or more years of service to the church, all with assignments at some point in the Archdiocese of Omaha.
Editors later learned of another religious sister with 50 years of service. Assignments are in Omaha unless otherwise stated:
Sister Ellen Marie Dolan
Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Deacons of the Archdiocese of Omaha have been celebrating ordination anniversaries of their peers for years. But the Aug. 24 celebration at the German American Society in Omaha marked a special milestone for the permanent diaconate - members of the first class of deacons celebrated their 40th anniversary.
Two members of that class - Deacons Joseph Ramirez and James Watson - were on hand to receive personal congratulations from Archbishop George J. Lucas. They also received plaques in honor of their 40th year.
Pastoral ministers and others learned tips about keeping older parishioners healthy and engaged in parish life during an Aug. 29 workshop at New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha.
Fourteen people from archdiocesan parishes and other faiths attended "Aging with Grace: Assisting Older Adults in Your Parish," presented by Mary Eileen Andreasen, director of outreach ministry at New Cassel, and Barb Bayer, nurse coordinator for geriatric psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
A program designed to enrich the faith lives of girls ages 8 to 18 is getting underway in many parishes again this fall, and the archdiocese is offering training sessions for facilitators.
The Girls' Religious Awards, coordinated by the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, features four age-appropriate program levels. Through 12 weeks of writing, reflection, pilgrimages, role playing and other activities, participants complete a workbook reviewed by their pastor or designated representative and receive a medal at a closing ceremony at their parish.
Nearly 200 women will gather Sept. 16 in Hartington for the Omaha Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women's (OACCW) 89th annual convention.
Reflecting on the theme "Living Our Faith" will be speakers Father Jeff Lorig, pastor of St. Ludger Parish in Creighton and St. Ignatius Parish in Brunswick; Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference; and Greg Schleppenbach, state director of the Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities.
Six parish mergers in east Omaha are on track to take place next year - with Archbishop George J. Lucas last month approving preliminary plans developed by parishioners and their pastors and sending them to the archdiocese's priests' council for review in October.
The mergers are among the eight outlined in Promise 2020, a parish and school restructuring initiative announced in June 2012.