Ask Michael C. Provine why he took on a three-year term as president of the board of trustees of the diocesan Foundation for Student Achievement and he comes right back with the answer: Catholic education.
It’s a subject on which Provine, one of seven new members who joined the FSA board in January at the behest of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., is well versed.
Like Bishop O’Connell, Provine is a life-long product of and advocate for Catholic education. And like the bishop, Provine, a member of St. David the King Parish, West Windsor, doesn’t hesitate to laud the traditions and accomplishments which have made Catholic education a vital contributor to American life for more than 400 years.
During a recent telephone interview, it quickly became clear that Provine, the principal and chief compliance officer of one major management fund and chief operating officer of another, is focused on making the case for the future of Catholic education in the Trenton Diocese and working to secure it.
“In my mind, Catholic schools don’t have an option,” said Provine, who is also president of the Westfield-based Byrne Foundation which awarded the FSA a $300,000 bequest payable over three years for tuition assistance.
Catholic schools, he said, “have to be viable and we have to be committed to this cause. We have to use our resources well and seek out the possibilities that will enable us to raise up new generations of Catholic school students,” he said.
He sees the Catholic school environment where “students, faculty and religious” all strive in unison for quality education and the development of faith, as “extremely important to maintain and reinvigorate.”
Provine, reared in Gloucester City in the Camden Diocese, where he attended St. Mary School through eighth grade, then St. Joseph Preparatory and St. Joseph University, both Philadelphia, recognized the FSA as a mechanism that could help accomplish such a goal.
The concept of a fund-raising arm for Catholic education in the diocese was endorsed in 2007 by the Commitment to Excellence strategic plan established by the Office of Catholic Schools.
The aim was to provide tuition assistance to families experiencing financial constraints; offer innovative and creative opportunities of teaching and learning not covered by the normal school budget; prepare and position the schools to attract additional resources and to organize private sector involvement with the Catholic schools in a positive and appropriate manner.
In the three years since it’s been in existence, the FSA has amassed over $600,000 and provided some $120,000 in tuition assistance, a real help for families though there remains a $2.5 million shortfall in resources for tuition assistance, according to the Catholic Schools Department.
Another $45,000 was allocated in years past for unique and creative educational projects for the benefit of diocesan elementary schools.
By April of 2011, the terms of the original board members who had been tasked with laying the organizational groundwork for the foundation were coming to an end and the decision was taken to recruit seven new trustees to provide leadership, guidance and planning for the financial viability of the foundation with an emphasis on fund development.
It was a challenge Provine said he and the other new board members were eager to accept. “It’s a big deal to try to do this during these times,” said Provine, who acknowledged that some might consider it a “daunting” task.
“But the foundation is a valuable tool for the diocese and the families who want to provide their children with a Catholic education.” He sees the FSA mechanism as a key toward keeping schools open and flourishing.
“We have 36 elementary schools and 111 parishes and all of them have issues related to what they need to do,” to secure the future, he said. “It’s my personal feeling that we do not want to have the specter of looming school closings with the disruptions that hurt down to a family level.”
The goal, he said, is a “life blood of funding that will provide assistance in teacher development, teacher acquisition and educational resources that will be state of the art as well as fully involved with the teaching of faith.”
Serving on the board with Provine are JoAnn Tier, diocesan school superintendent; Stephen Nicholl, diocesan development director and Father Timothy Capewell, pastor of St. David the King Parish, West Windsor.
The new members of the board are:
• Robert Finan, 56, treasurer, Holy Cross Parish, Rumson. Finan, a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, and his wife, Diane are the parents of five children who attended Holy Cross School and Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft. The couple is also actively involved in the Domestic Church Media Foundation, a nonprofit Catholic media broadcast organization.
• Mark Larsen, 57, St. Paul Parish, Princeton, who was the president of Asia-Pacific and Global Nutritionals for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. A North Dakota native who attended Princeton University on a scholarship, Larsen and his wife, Cindy, have three children, one of whom was severely injured while serving in Iraq. Larsen is very active in The Wounded Warrior organization, a foundation that serves wounded veterans.
• Robert Pellicone, St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel. A managing member of Hamilton Wolcott Holdings, New York, Pellicone and his wife, Rita, reside in Colts. Neck. Their children attended Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft.
• Karen Taylor of St. Rose Parish, Belmar. Taylor and her husband Alec, reside in Belmar. Their five children attend St. Rose Elementary School, Belmar, Red Bank Catholic High School and Boston College.
• Katy Theroux, vice president, St. Paul Parish, Princeton. She and her husband, Todd, have six children including an infant at home. The two boys attend St. Paul School, Princeton, and the three girls attend Villa Victoria Academy, Ewing. The second vice president of customer engagement and human resources at GS1 US, she is president of the board of trustees at Pierce College, Philadelphia.[[In-content Ad]]