MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The first day of school for Catholic students in the Mobile Archdiocese is here. Thousands of students will be going back to class in places that try to put equal emphasis on learning and Christian values. The Mobile Archdiocese covers about half the state of Alabama and last year had more than six thousand students in 18 schools.

A lot of those kids go to schools in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Teachers and staff at Catholic schools gathered Tuesday for the annual back-to-school mass. Archbishop Thomas Rodi says teachers play an important role. They spend almost as much time with students as their parents do–in some cases even more time. Rodi says students won’t always remember who taught them what when they get older but they’ll always remember their impact.

“I remember how they made me feel about myself, there are teachers who made me feel good, gave me confidence made me know that I was worthwhile,” said Archbishop Rodi. Catholic school officials pride themselves on teaching both academics and Christian values. The archbishop also has a message for parents, asking them to make sure achievement in school isn’t overshadowed by the need to put faith first.