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Catholic educators ‘a sign of hope’ for 2020-21 school year

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As diocesan educators begin a unique and challenging 2020-21 school year amid a continuing coronavirus pandemic with no end in sight, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge acknowledged that Jesus’ words from the Gospel “apply to all of us: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’ ”

“We are burdened by the challenges of this pandemic, and the uncertainty causes us added stress,” Bishop Burbidge told hundreds of teachers, parents and students watching the annual Opening Mass and Convocation for Diocesan Educators, livestreamed Aug. 19 from All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas. A small group of educators, mostly from All Saints Catholic School, were present in person. 

“How can the Lord say his burden is light? It certainly doesn’t feel light these days,” Bishop Burbidge said. But Jesus “gives us rest, strengthens us and sustains us.”  If we rely on our own strength, “we will always be overwhelmed, but yoked to him, united to him, we will always find the grace we need to be steadfast, strong and courageous.”

Bishop Burbidge asked teachers and parents to spend even more time in prayer this year. “How blessed we are, truly blessed, to have our Catholic schools, where such prayer is not only allowed but encouraged and fostered,” he added.

He told educators, “we are not alone — God is with us and we are here for one another, to help each other with our burdens and support each other in faith.” He reminded them when schools had to go virtual this past spring, “you did it — with your creativity, perseverance and patience. You’re doing it, and for that I’m most grateful. But isn’t that what leaders do? They find a way to do it.”

Bishop Burbidge said the diocese’s “highest priority is the safety, health and well-being of all of our students and all those involved” in Catholic schools. He said the pandemic is teaching us many valuable lessons, including that “we can live without some of the nonessentials,” and focus on what truly matters in life, especially our relationship with God. “Thank you for helping parents, the first teachers of faith, and their children to keep that focus.” 

Bishop Burbidge said he knows that as teachers “carry out this beautiful ministry that God has given you as a Catholic educator, you do so with your own burdens,” and yet God sends educators out “to be a sign of hope to students, a sign of optimism, of confidence and of enthusiasm,” always with the strength God supplies. 

After the Mass, Joseph E. Vorbach, diocesan superintendent of schools, announced honors, including 2019 National Blue Ribbon School recognition  by the U.S. Department of Education for St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle. He also recognized educators marking milestone anniversaries with the diocese, including 30 years of service for Sister Karl Ann Homberg, assistant superintendent.  (See full list below.) 

After a break, educators returned online to hear a talk by Henry Fortier, Secretary of Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. 

Teachers celebrate years of service

According to the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, the following diocesan teachers and staff celebrate special anniversaries of their years of service:

30 years: David Conroy, All Saints School in Manassas; Patricia Senia, Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria; Don Cotton, St. Andrew the Apostle School in Clifton; Nancy Dickson, St. John the Evangelist School in Warrenton; Bianca Figueiredo, St. Leo the Great School in Fairfax; Victoria Eichler, Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria; Eileen Johnson, St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly; Gary Underhill, St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly.

25 years: Austin Poole, Epiphany School in Culpeper; Marcia Healy, St. Ambrose School in Annandale; Marie Scheessele, St. Ann School in Arlington; Tricia Barber, St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle; Debra Balint, St. John Academy in McLean; LuAnn Fine, St. John the Evangelist School in Warrenton; Kristine Carr, St. Luke School in McLean; Victoria Detherage, St. William of York School in Stafford.

10 years: Pamela Pascua, Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria; Maura Locke, Holy Spirit School in Annandale; Teressa Sadowski, Our Lady of Hope School in Potomac Falls; Carmen Chiappetta, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Amanda Fallon, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Kathy Hofer, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Grainne Humphries, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Dawn Jones, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Judith Smith, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Ann Reid, St. Agnes School in Arlington; Mallary McCullough, St. Andrew the Apostle School in Clifton; Sharon Hanson, St. Bernadette School in Springfield; Karen Keeven, St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle; Jill Evans, St. John the Evangelist School in Warrenton; Ryan Stohlman, St. John the Evangelist School in Warrenton; Mary Sears, St. Joseph School in Herndon; Hwan Ah Lee, St. Leo the Great School in Fairfax; Regina Allegra, St. Luke School in McLean; Marie Gadell, St. Mark School in Vienna; Jacklin McKee, The Basilica School of St. Mary in Alexandria; Maryanne Franklin, The Basilica School of St. Mary in Alexandria; David Cho, St. Rita School in Alexandria; Alexsandra Lynch, St. Rita School in Alexandria; Megan Rolla, St. Rita School in Alexandria; Annie Whitfield, St. Theresa School in Ashburn; Katrina Peller, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge; Ben Wage, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge; William Crisp, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge; Barbara Joseph-Tyranski, St. Veronica School in Chantilly; Michelle McSorley, St. William of York School in Stafford; Katheryn Moloko, St. William of York School in Stafford; Karen Kalna, St. William of York School in Stafford; Irma Alvarez, St. William of York School in Stafford; Elizabeth Jones, St. William of York School in Stafford; Deacon Tom Grodek, St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly; Betsy Rhodes, St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly; Tracy Fentress, St. Paul VI High School in Chantilly.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020