By Vince LaBarbera
FORT WAYNE, SOUTH BEND — “I wish to begin by thanking all of you for your strong support of our Catholic schools. I wish to thank Quality Dining for sponsoring this annual luncheon in celebration of excellence in Catholic education. And I wish to congratulate and thank our teachers and educators who are recipients this year of the Light of Learning award in recognition of their positive impact on Catholic education,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
His remarks were made Jan. 30 in the Marriott Hotel Marquis Ballroom during the annual Luncheon in Celebration of Excellence in Catholic Education.
Held in conjunction with National Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 29 – Feb. 5), the event was attended by approximately 300 people including pastors, school administrators and community leaders. It was hosted by Deacon James Fitzpatrick, senior vice president and chief development officer of Quality Dining and who also serves as a deacon at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne.
A luncheon recognizing Light of Learning award educators in the South Bend area of the diocese was held Feb. 1 in the Gillespie Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Bend.
The luncheons centered on the theme, “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.” Bishop Rhoades was the keynote speaker at both events.
Carolyn Kirkendall, principal of St. Joseph School, Monroeville, was this year’s Light of Learning administrative recipient in the Fort Wayne area.
At the South Bend luncheon, Janet Wroblewski from St. John the Baptist, South Bend, was this year’s Light of Learning administrative recipient.
In Fort Wayne, Jerry and Becky Henry received the Msgr. J. William Lester Award, which honors the late Msgr. Lester’s spirit and legacy to Catholic parishes and schools in the diocese for 60 years.
At the South Bend luncheon, recipients of the Msgr. J. William Lester Award were Al and Mary Harding, Kevin and Marijo Kelly, Marty and Jane Murphy and Patric and Susan Richter.
Dr. Mark Myers, superintendent of Catholic schools, Marsha Jordan, associate superintendent, and Bishop Rhoades presented 18 educators from the Fort Wayne area and 18 educators from the South Bend area with the Light of Learning award in recognition of their positive impact on Catholic education.
From the Fort Wayne area, they included the following: Theresa Ammer, St. John the Baptist, New Haven; Angela Benner, St. Bernard, Wabash; Jana Bloom, St. Joseph, Decatur; Daniel DeLaGrange, Huntington Catholic, Huntington; Abby Dykhuizen, St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne; Christina Fulk, Sacred Heart, Warsaw; Meg Hanlon, Bishop Luers High School, Fort Wayne; Brenda Kline, St. Mary of the Assumption, Avilla; Pamela Lepley, St. Therese, Fort Wayne; Karen Lohmuller, Most Precious Blood, Fort Wayne; Virginia Robison, St. Aloysius, Yoder; Roberta Tierney, St. Jude, Fort Wayne; Anthony Turner, St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne; Gina Tyner, St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne; Mary Ann Waikel, Queen of Angels, Fort Wayne; Marcy Watts, St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne; and Lori Williams, Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne.
From the South Bend area, they included the following: Marilyn Ahearn, Corpus Christi, South Bend; Donna Bella, Holy Family, South Bend; Douglas Clark, St. Adalbert, South Bend; Gina Hite, Queen of Peace, Mishawaka; Marie Hoeffler, St. Michael, Plymouth; Stephan Johnson, St. Thomas the Apostle, Elkhart; Matthew Kirsch, Christ the King, South Bend; Allison Krisch, St. Pius X, Granger; Melissa Manier, Holy Cross, South Bend; Michael McCarthy, Saint Joseph’s High School, South Bend; Mishawaka Catholic School Community; Stephanie Ritchie, St. John the Evangelist, Goshen; Terese Sinka, St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend; Heather Snavely, Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend; Tara Ton, Marian High School, Mishawaka; Jennifer Treber, St. John the Baptist, South Bend; Alexis Turnock, St. Anthony de Padua, South Bend; and Kathleen Wolfram, St. Jude, South Bend.
“One of my favorite activities as bishop is visiting our Catholic schools: celebrating holy Mass at the various schools and visiting the classrooms to experience first-hand the marvelous education our students are receiving,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Our Catholic schools strive for excellence in every area of education: in spiritual and intellectual formation as well as physical education. We are committed to the education of the whole child.”
“We can never rest on our laurels as we seek to become always better,” Bishop Rhoades added. “As you probably know, Catholic schools are one of my top priorities as bishop because I believe they are of the greatest importance for the future of the Church.”
“We need well-educated, committed Catholic young people who will graduate with a strong commitment to the Church and its mission,” Bishop Rhoads emphasized.
Bishop Rhoades spoke of the upcoming Year of Faith beginning Oct. 11, announced some months ago by Pope Benedict XVI, as a springboard for helping “our children and young people to discover the journey of faith and to experience the joy of friendship with Christ.”
To the recipients of this honorable award the bishop said, “Again, I thank all of you for your commitment to Catholic education. I am extremely happy that enrollment in our Catholic schools is increasing. I give thanks to God for all of you, for our priests, our principals, our teachers, our Catholic school staff and our generous benefactors. Together, we share a holy mission, the mission of passing on the Catholic faith, the faith that we are called to share and also to defend, especially in today’s climate that is increasingly hostile to the faith. But the faith we profess with our lips and seek to put into practice in our lives is the path to life, true life, eternal life.”
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