Diocesan Superintendent William Crist

By William Crist

Superintendent of Catholic Schools

This may have been the shortest summer on record. I know that’s not really true, but the days steamed by with warm weather and abundant sunshine. Accompanying these months was a list of items to close one school year and open another. With that, we are ready for school to begin and excited to be welcoming our students back to our Catholic schools.

As we welcome students and families, we are thankful for the opportunity to have this special relationship with each of them as part of our unique Catholic school community.

New classroom technology continues to be ever-present in our schools — 1:1 tablets, Chromebooks and iPads, drones and smartboards and related software position each of our schools to be 21st-century learning communities. Many of our schools are also enhancing programs in the arts, including visual and performing arts. By initiating practices and innovative lessons that engage students and motivate learners, we are on the front of the cresting wave of trends in STEM and, more so, STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education. Our teachers are being trained in best practices in the classroom and subject area initiatives.

Each of our schools has taken significant steps to ensure that buildings are safe and secure. With the rash of school and societal violence nationwide, we cannot stand idle. We have taken proactive measures to guarantee student safety by engaging diocesan resources to inventory and inspect our physical surroundings. Enhancing our schools with camera systems, entryway access, and revised protocols and practices provides proactive measures toward safer schools.

We are most distinguished by the presence of our faith in our classrooms. It is comforting to know that we are supported by God at our side. Through our commitment to forming our Catholic students to be missionary disciples and keeping evangelization as a hallmark of our schools, we recognize that it is an exciting time to be a Catholic Christian. The enthusiasm of the first disciples continues to be our own as we carry on the mission of Jesus in our day. Allan Wright, author of Jesus the Evangelist, states, “the Holy Spirit came down on the first believers, people just like us with fears and anxieties, and made them evangelizers. That spirit is being poured out on us today. While there is no perfect program, there is a perfect person, who is Jesus Christ, who is our model in all things. In conforming our lives to his and by being animated by the Holy Spirit, we can evangelize like he evangelized in word, in deed and in power.”

Endeavoring to be better engaged with our parishes will be an even higher priority with each of our schools this year. Strong parish communities translate into strong school communities. This synergy is best defined by our diocesan school finance chairman, Mr. Frank Caliva, who often refers to our Catholic schools as the “finishing schools for our parishes.” We believe our Catholic school students are the future of our Church in the Diocese of Syracuse.

As we welcome students to our schools — each a wonderful destination for success and learning — I personally acknowledge the dedication of our teachers and building principals, leaders striving for academic excellence each and every day. Once again, we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with our parents and we welcome our students to our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Syracuse.

Have a great year and may God bless all of you!

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