High school educators gather for renewal, refocus

July 29, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.
High school educators gather for renewal, refocus
High school educators gather for renewal, refocus


In an event that organizers considered “historic,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C. M. addressed high school educators gathered March 23 in Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, for a conference entitled, “Our Catholic Schools – Forming the Future.”

Developed and designed by high school vice-principals, the day included a prayer service, offered sessions on global education and curricular topics and comments by Father Douglas Freer, vicar for Catholic education, and Joanne Tier, diocesan superintendent of schools.

Click HERE to view photo gallery

In addition, the first diocesan committee meeting of Catholic Athletes for Christ, facilitated by Dr. Margaret Boland, associate superintendent of Catholic schools, provided high school athletic directors, guidance counselors and those responsible for athletics to discuss the design and implementation of this faith-based program for diocesan high schools. 

In her welcome to the hundreds of educators who filled Notre Dame’s auditorium, Eileen McCullion, assistant principal of Monsignor Donovan High School, Toms River, explained that participants had received copies of the National Catholic Educational Association’s new “National Standards for Effective Elementary and Secondary Schools,” at the request of Bishop O’Connell. The bishop would later point out that the standards, “were described as a ‘necessary framework (of) credible, consistent, agreed-upon criteria to confidently lead truly excellent Catholic schools.’”  He invited educators to “read, study and reflect upon them together within your local Catholic school faculty.”

Expressing his appreciation for this first opportunity to share his thoughts with so many of the high school faculty, Bishop O’Connell stressed that the “two critical elements in the life of any organization …  are identity and mission: in other words, who you are and what you do.  The health and integrity of any organization can be determined by demonstrating that its mission (what you do) flows from its identity (who you are).”

He also shared his perspective on Catholic identity, saying, “A Catholic school derives its institutional identity from Jesus Christ, from the Gospels, from the Church and its teachings, history and traditions, and from its central place within the Catholic Christian community at the parish and diocesan levels. That is who we are. And that Catholic identity has not changed since Jesus Christ stood on the Mount of the Ascension and commanded his followers” to “Go, therefore, and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19).”

Bishop O’Connell emphasized, “To inspire, to engage, to light a fire, to change lives – these are our mission as Catholic school teachers and the results of a Gospel vision and passion that occur within a committed partnership, a convinced and courageous partnership that educates in a way that is unambiguously and, therefore, distinctively Catholic.”

During the first group session of the day, Bishop O’Connell welcomed Patrick Quintana, founder of the CAC program at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and Bob Picardo, a member  of the CUA, CAC program, both of whom gave a presentation on the program to the newly formed committee. Bishop O’Connell identified Father Alberto Tamayo, vice chancellor and secretary to the bishop, as moderator of the committee and diocesan liason for CAC.

Participants described the day as “energizing,” and the group sessions with their varied content as “eye opening” and “a rare opportunity for brainstorming.”

“We talked past the break,” said one administrator, a true indication of value and fruitfulness for educators who are always on the clock.

In closing, Father Freer affirmed the work of high school educators, saying, “I am very impressed with your professionalism, academic credibility and test scores, but, also, because of the way you witness to your faith and serve as role models for the students. Thank you for choosing to teach in Catholic schools.”

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In an event that organizers considered “historic,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C. M. addressed high school educators gathered March 23 in Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, for a conference entitled, “Our Catholic Schools – Forming the Future.”

Developed and designed by high school vice-principals, the day included a prayer service, offered sessions on global education and curricular topics and comments by Father Douglas Freer, vicar for Catholic education, and Joanne Tier, diocesan superintendent of schools.

Click HERE to view photo gallery

In addition, the first diocesan committee meeting of Catholic Athletes for Christ, facilitated by Dr. Margaret Boland, associate superintendent of Catholic schools, provided high school athletic directors, guidance counselors and those responsible for athletics to discuss the design and implementation of this faith-based program for diocesan high schools. 

In her welcome to the hundreds of educators who filled Notre Dame’s auditorium, Eileen McCullion, assistant principal of Monsignor Donovan High School, Toms River, explained that participants had received copies of the National Catholic Educational Association’s new “National Standards for Effective Elementary and Secondary Schools,” at the request of Bishop O’Connell. The bishop would later point out that the standards, “were described as a ‘necessary framework (of) credible, consistent, agreed-upon criteria to confidently lead truly excellent Catholic schools.’”  He invited educators to “read, study and reflect upon them together within your local Catholic school faculty.”

Expressing his appreciation for this first opportunity to share his thoughts with so many of the high school faculty, Bishop O’Connell stressed that the “two critical elements in the life of any organization …  are identity and mission: in other words, who you are and what you do.  The health and integrity of any organization can be determined by demonstrating that its mission (what you do) flows from its identity (who you are).”

He also shared his perspective on Catholic identity, saying, “A Catholic school derives its institutional identity from Jesus Christ, from the Gospels, from the Church and its teachings, history and traditions, and from its central place within the Catholic Christian community at the parish and diocesan levels. That is who we are. And that Catholic identity has not changed since Jesus Christ stood on the Mount of the Ascension and commanded his followers” to “Go, therefore, and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19).”

Bishop O’Connell emphasized, “To inspire, to engage, to light a fire, to change lives – these are our mission as Catholic school teachers and the results of a Gospel vision and passion that occur within a committed partnership, a convinced and courageous partnership that educates in a way that is unambiguously and, therefore, distinctively Catholic.”

During the first group session of the day, Bishop O’Connell welcomed Patrick Quintana, founder of the CAC program at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and Bob Picardo, a member  of the CUA, CAC program, both of whom gave a presentation on the program to the newly formed committee. Bishop O’Connell identified Father Alberto Tamayo, vice chancellor and secretary to the bishop, as moderator of the committee and diocesan liason for CAC.

Participants described the day as “energizing,” and the group sessions with their varied content as “eye opening” and “a rare opportunity for brainstorming.”

“We talked past the break,” said one administrator, a true indication of value and fruitfulness for educators who are always on the clock.

In closing, Father Freer affirmed the work of high school educators, saying, “I am very impressed with your professionalism, academic credibility and test scores, but, also, because of the way you witness to your faith and serve as role models for the students. Thank you for choosing to teach in Catholic schools.”

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