By Dr. Erin Barisano     9/4/2018

As the newly appointed Superintendent of Catholic Schools, I welcome you to another wonderful school year in the Diocese of Orange! I am blessed to join this diocese during an exciting time of growth and look forward to the journey that lies ahead.

This year, our schools will focus on telling our Catholic School Story. Our schools are rich in history and have impacted the lives of so many families. According to the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), Catholic schools shape students so that they may unlock their intellectual potential while forming them for a personal and living encounter with Jesus Christ (2016). The tradition of high academic standards coupled with strong Catholic values is embedded in the culture and identity of our schools and is a lived reality for our students, parents, teachers, principals, and larger communities.

As a proud product of Catholic schools, my story has been shaped by my educational experiences and Catholic upbringing. I was born and raised just outside the Diocese of Orange in Pomona, California and attended St. Joseph School and Pomona Catholic High School. My love for Catholic education did not stop with high school as I am a graduate of three Catholic universities: University of Notre Dame, Mount St. Mary’s University (Los Angeles) and Loyola Marymount University. With a strong desire to actively participate in the Catholic school system, I felt called to serve as a Catholic school teacher and principal and, most recently, I had the honor to serve the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as an assistant superintendent. I have witnessed first-hand the transformative effects of Catholic schools and it is a privilege to bring my knowledge, experience and passion to the Diocese of Orange. As a wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher, and leader, my Catholic school experience has had a profound impact on my life and has shaped me to be the person God calls me to be.

As we journey together this year, I will be sharing our Catholic school stories from within our own diocese and highlighting the impact our schools have on the larger community. As a kick-off to our school year, our school presidents, principals, and teachers gathered at Santa Margarita High School for our annual Educator’s Convocation on August 24. It was a day of faith, fellowship, and sharing as we looked to the future of Catholic schools in our diocese. We were blessed to have Dr. Leonard DeLorenzo as our keynote speaker who shared with us the importance of sharing stories of grace with our students, parents, and communities. Dr. DeLorenzo is a graduate of Mater Dei High School and is the director of Notre Dame Vision which is a program designed to help young adults find their true vocation. He offered a message of hope and inspired us to share our own faith stories as a way to build community at individual school sites and across the diocese.

As we begin another school year and open our hearts to our students and parents, I invite you to pray for all those involved in the ministry of Catholic education. We are committed to living out the evangelizing mission of our Church through our Catholic schools and creating future leaders for our Church and for our world. Come, join the journey!