Catholic Schools Celebration Brings Joy, Inspiration & Hope
St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Education Celebration
On March 3, 2021, the feast day of its patroness, St. Katherine Drexel, the Catholic Foundation held its inaugural Catholic Education celebration. The event honored Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Detroit, the principals and teachers that joyfully lead and serve within them, and the multitude of families who have sacrificed and benefited from Catholic education.
Over a hundred community members came together to celebrate and pray with those leading the way in Catholic education. The event began with an opening prayer led by Alexa and Bob Calleja, a father-daughter duo from St. Edith Catholic School. Alexa was one of 63 exceptional scholarship recipients from the 2020 cycle. Anthony Schena, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s Grant & Impact Committee Chair and Board Member, led the presentation of awards to the 2021 Amazing Catholic Educator Awards. Four principals and six teachers were surprised during the live virtual event with plaques and $1,000 awards as their fellow colleagues and students cheered. The event ended with an inspiring keynote from Kathleen McCann, Catholic Foundation of Michigan Board Member and Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic Schools Council Chair.
To learn more about the touching event and watch a live recording, see below.
The excerpt below is from “Catholic Foundation honors 10 ‘amazing Catholic educators’ with inaugural awards” written by Gabriella Patti and originally published by Detroit Catholic, a publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (March 3, 2021)
On the feast day of its patroness, St. Katherine Drexel, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan honored 10 Archdiocese of Detroit principals and teachers with its inaugural Amazing Catholic Educator Award.
The award “recognizes teachers, specialists and administrators across the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) who are creating a school culture that is proudly Catholic, academically excellent, accessible to all, and sustainable for the future,” according to the Catholic Foundation’s website.
After being nominated via written recommendations from colleagues, students and parents, each submission was reviewed by the Catholic Foundation’s Grant and Impact Committee. The winners all will receive $1,000.
According to Catholic Foundation president and CEO Angela Moloney, St. Katherine Drexel’s work to expand Catholic education opportunities, especially among minority communities, makes her a perfect patroness for the organization, especially as it honors Catholic educators.
“St. Katherine Drexel is the patron saint of the Catholic Foundation, and she is phenomenal in so many ways,” Moloney told Detroit Catholic. “Her mission and ministry was really to support educational endeavors for Black and indigenous communities. She really focused on Catholic education and lifting people up through education.”
The first annual St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Schools Celebration was held virtually via Zoom, but the Catholic Foundation and those who nominated the educators still managed to surprise the winners. Teachers and principals were presented with their awards by their colleagues, often with their students in the background cheering them on.
During the ceremony, Anthony Schena, a member of the Catholic Foundations board of directors, said the winners spanned from the city to the suburbs, from kindergarten to high school, and had a combined 109 years of service to Catholic education.
“You are building the foundation for the next generation of faithful Catholics, and we are so very blessed to have you in our schools,” Schena said.
Although the event was the Catholic Foundation’s first celebration of this kind, Moloney said the foundation hopes to continue the tradition.
“We plan to celebrate Catholic education every year,” Moloney said. “Last year was a really unique one for everyone. Our world was rocked by the uncertainty of all we faced. So generous individuals and families reached out to the Catholic Foundation to see how they could show their support for Catholic schools, students, families and staff.”
This outburst of generosity led to the establishment of two unique 2020 scholarships: the St. Martin De Porres Scholarship and the St. Anne Scholars Fund. The new funds benefited 63 worthy families at 23 different archdiocesan schools, allowing them to afford a Catholic education for their children.
As the ceremony came to a close, Kathleen McCann, chairwoman of the archdiocese’s Catholic Schools Council and a Catholic Foundation board member, shared her congratulations to the winners and shared how, although she didn’t benefit directly from a Catholic education, she still experienced their indirect impact through her own parents, who both went to Catholic schools in Metro Detroit.
“Most years we were either on the waiting list for Catholic school, or the ‘couldn’t afford it’ list,” McCann said. “Nonetheless, there is no doubt that we all were indirect recipients of the gift of our parents’ Catholic education. It is a gift that keeps on giving.”
McCann acknowledged that the reason anyone is able to enjoy the gift of Catholic education is through the generosity of others, whether through scholarships and grants, parents who make sacrifices, or educators who dedicate themselves to a life of Catholic teaching with little pay.
“We are all aware today of the mounting challenges in our culture and in our children’s schools,” McCann said. “Truth is elusive in many circles, and belief in (God) is thought only to belong to the ignorant or naïve. We know better, of course, and it takes love, courage and boldness to speak to truth to a hostile culture and to guide our little ones to truth and a God who loves them. You literally change lives every single day through your vocation, and you save souls through your work.”
2021 Amazing Catholic Educator Award recipients:
- Bethany Beyer –– Teacher at Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Hills
- Gregory Reichert –– Principal at Everest Collegiate High School and Academy, Clarkston
- Deborah Sylvester –– Teacher at St. Stephen School, New Boston
- Melissa Hunt –– Principal at Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Plymouth
- Mary Elizabeth White –– Teacher at St. Clare of Montefalco School, Grosse Pointe Park
- Ann Diamond –– Principal at Regina High School, Warren
- Kathryn Farkas –– Director of Student Services at Our Lady of the Lakes School, Waterford Township
- Joseph Zmikly –– Principal at St. Joseph School, Lake Orion
- Anneke Houbeck –– Teacher at St. Catherine of Siena Academy, Wixom
- Bridget Schick –– Teacher at Gesu Catholic School, Detroit