By William Crist | Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Our school doors were flung open with excitement and enthusiasm last week as we welcomed our students and families to the 2019-20 school year in the Diocese of Syracuse. The anticipation that builds up over the short and fleeting summer days comes to an abrupt yet tumultuous halt when those doors open each new year. We are thrilled to get down to the business of a Catholic education throughout our 22 schools. With many new faces and responsibilities — and thankfully many returning faces of dedicated faculty, administrators, and staff — our students were greeted with the joy and commitment of an amazing team of exceptional educators who chose Catholic schools to carry out their mission of teaching while sharing the Gospel messages of Jesus Christ.

One of the newest faces in our diocese is that of our bishop, Most Rev. Douglas J. Lucia, who was ordained and installed on Aug. 8 in the presence of a capacity congregation in our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Faculty and administration were blessed to be in attendance at our Opening Day Mass on Aug. 29 as Bishop Lucia celebrated with many priests and deacons. We thank the many parish priests for their ongoing dedication and commitment to Catholic education by their presence and support for each of our schools. Bishop Lucia’s humility in his newly affirmed role and his excitement for our schools and loyal educators radiated throughout the Mass. We are truly blessed for the spiritual leadership seamlessly continuing from Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Cunningham to Bishop Lucia.

Our faculty and administration were further energized by the remarks and related discussion from our keynote presenter Chris Lowney, a continuation of our professional-development day following our Mass of the Holy Spirit. An acclaimed author, presenter, and former seminarian, Lowney provided motivating insights taken from his newest book, Make Today Matter:10 Habits for a Better Life (and World). We all hope to be guided by some of these habits as we strive for a better life.

With each new school year, I have the opportunity to make brief visits to many schools in the course of the first few days of school. This year I will also be making more in-depth visits throughout the school year. The amazing takeaway and observation from each of my brief stops has been the sense of order and routine that is present. I was impressed by the planning by our teachers and administrators, the eagerness of students to return to see new and old friends and anticipate new lessons and experiences, and the commitment by parents to be partners with our schools.

I thank our parents for having students prepared and ready to begin a new school year. Your commitment to choosing one of our Catholic schools is appreciated and valued. We believe that, as parents, you are the first teachers of your child. You have shaped early lessons in life that are rooted in our faith and instilled in the young minds and hearts of our students. I am fortunate to witness and observe this in our schools and classrooms. As Catholic schools in the Diocese of Syracuse, we are excited to be partnering with you as we shape the next generation of successful members of society and our Church. Our schools’ foundational pillars of faith, academic excellence, and service stand to guide and direct our actions.

As we commence the 2019-20 school year, I look forward to a wonderful year of discovery and learning. I believe that we will all be impressed by the passion for learning and positive motivation, examples of exemplary behavior and teamwork, and displays of advocacy and support of others. Our schools are often referred to as a finishing school for our parishes. We have a unique and awesome responsibility to fulfill that mission. Blessings and all good things as we embark on this new journey together.

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