Joining Faith and Knowledge

Sept. 16 – 22, 2004
Joining Faith and Knowledge
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Catholic School Educators Begin a New Academic Year

“Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Mt. 28:20)

This passage from Matthew’s Gospel was most fitting for the event that took place on Sept. 7 at Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse. For the first time, diocesan-wide staff gathered to celebrate their faith and the start of a new school year.

Bishop James Moynihan, celebrant of the Mass, was joined by Bishop Thomas Costello, 17 priests and more than 800 teachers, administrators, faculty and religious to ask for God’s blessings for the 2004-05 academic year. Teachers and administrators who had retired or passed away, as well as those who were starting their career in Catho-lic education, were remembered, acknowledged and praised for their commitment and dedication.

“You are ambassadors and ministers of Christ in the profession that you exercise,” said Bishop Moynihan. “You must therefore conduct yourselves as representatives of Christ Himself. You must be convinced that it is the truth of Christ that you speak, that it is in His name that you teach, and that it is He Himself who gives you authority over your students.” Bishop Moynihan talked of the importance of moral development and character as part of educating students. “From their beginnings, Catholic schools have committed to sharing with parents the responsibility of developing character in their children,” said Bishop Moynihan. “Catholic schools are the place where faith and knowledge meet.”

At the end of Mass, John Cataldo, superintendent of Catholic Schools, acknowledged Bishops Moynihan and Costello for their support of Catholic schools as well as the pastors for their tireless support of the schools, both financially and spiritually. “I must also recognize our religious –– you have always been at the center of our schools,“ said Cataldo. “Whether it be as administrators, teachers or spiritual leaders, you continue to be our strength,” he said. “Carpe Diem –– Seize the Day” was the theme of Cataldo’s presentation, which consisted of both good news and forthcoming challenges. Cataldo presented new initiatives that are taking place, including multi-aging classrooms, Middle States Accreditation, technology initiatives and enhanced facilities.

“Although the diocese continues to shine, there are some dark clouds on the horizon,” said Cataldo, referring to a reduction in federal funds of more than $147,000. The funds provided resources for staff development and innovative programs. Cataldo also remarked on the fact that for the 20th consecutive year, New York State has been late on passing the state budget and how that impacts Catholic schools. “This year, I submitted to every lawmaker who represents the seven counties in the diocese, a request for what is often called ‘member items,’” said Cataldo. “Our diocese saves the taxpayers in New York $22.5 million dollars. In return, we have been ignored by our legislative representatives.” Cataldo asked the diocesan staff to contact their legislators urging them to support the request for member items funding. Cataldo was pleased to announce that through the efforts of many parties and the constant support of Bishop Moynihan for the first time in several years there were no schools being closed. The announcement was met with thunderous applause, especially by the faculty and staff of Rome Catholic School, who had their own reasons to celebrate. The Catholic schools in Rome have faced some challenging and uncertain times in the last few years due to economic downturn and the resulting decrease in population. Through the efforts of John Cataldo and the support of Bishop Moynihan, Rome has realigned its Catholic school campus and created one cohesive kindergarten through 12 building.

At a celebratory Mass and rededication ceremony held at the school on Sept. 8, Bishop Moynihan congratulated the community, Cataldo and the faculty for their hard work and dedication in maintaining Catholic education in Rome. “Everyone has pulled together and by pulling together things can happen,” said Bishop Moynihan. “You are a great example of cooperation.” The event, entitled “New Beginnings,” brought priests, board members, local politicians and community members together to acknowledge the culmination of years of planning committee meetings, brainstorming sessions and public hearings that ensure a strong future for Catholic schools in Rome.

“New Beginnings. That sounds nice,” said Bishop Moynihan. “It sounds like Catholic schools are here to stay. We are here to rejoice in our hopes and dreams of the future. It’s a new school –– new in its leadership, new in its focus, and new in the number of students,” he said. Another fresh beginning at the school is the new leadership of principal Chris Mominey. In his remarks to the audience Mominey thanked the bishop and Cataldo for their support. “John, when no one said we could do it, you said it’s simply not true. And Bishop Moynihan, when others were filling your ear with negativity and doubt you listened to the people of Rome and made a commitment to this community. And now their dream has indeed become a reality,” said Mominey. “I promise both of you that we will be successful and that nothing will stop me from leading this school into a bright future filled with stability, hope and creativity,” he said. Mominey expressed his gratitude to Cataldo and Bishop Moynihan for giving him this opportunity and for taking Catholic schools off of life support and breathing new life into the mission and ministry of education.

At the end of the Mass, the mayor of Rome, Jim Brown came forward and shared his pride in being a part of the community and part of the institution of Rome Catholic before proclaiming Sept. 8 as Rome Catholic School Day –– A New Beginning. While a new school year begins for thousands of students throughout the diocese, what is not new is the purpose of Catholic education, said Bishop Moynihan. “The purpose of Catholic schools is to prepare students for life –– here and after. Jesus Christ is the number one student in every Catholic school. He is present in every classroom,” he said.

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