In this month of Thanksgiving, I reflect on the many blessings we have for our Catholic Schools. I recently had the opportunity to attend the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit in Jacksonville, Fla. with more than 380 servant leaders from across the United States. As disciples on this journey of Catholic education, we are blessed with many partners who share and support our mission! Our keynote speaker, Chris Lowney, reminded us that our schools exist in a world that is volatile, uncertain, and complex. As such, we must get comfortable with the reality of being uncomfortable while ensuring that our schools are places of faith and grace where our students can thrive. While our challenges are many, it was inspiring to come together and celebrate Catholic education across our nation.

We are grateful for Associate Superintendent Sally Todd, who has faithfully served our diocese for the past 20 years. We are deeply appreciative for Sally’s dedication, love, and commitment to Catholic education in Orange County and pray for her as she will be retiring at the end of the school year. Our schools are better because of her work!

We are grateful for Scott Gotreau, our Director of Educational Technology, for his commitment to 21st-century teaching and learning. Through his work with ABLE Fellows, Scott empowers teachers by providing personalized professional development so students attain mastery of content. Scott represented our office at the iNACOL 2018 Symposium. iNACOL drives the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all.

We are grateful for Dr. Denise Valadez who joined the Diocese of Orange as Associate Superintendent of Curriculum, Spirituality and Accreditation. The addition of Denise is critically important to the continued development of our Catholic schools. The investment in this new position is vital to help move forward the key initiatives outlined in the school sustainability task force. Dr. Valadez brings over 15 years of experience as a Catholic school teacher and principal to our diocese and is excited to share in our evangelizing mission.

We are grateful for Michael Schabert who will join us next month as Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marketing and Enrollment. The addition of Mike is critically important to the continued development of our Catholic schools. Mike will be working closely with me, our school leaders, and the Office of Communications. Our overriding goal is to expand our outreach and engagement with our Catholic youth in a faith filled rigorous academic setting. Mr. Schabert brings a variety of life and career experiences including youth ministry, teacher, advancement director, and high school principal.

We are grateful for our extended staff at the Department of Catholic Schools: Nanci, Adrianna, Russ, Ernie, Deb, and Gabriella. We are especially grateful for the guidance and support of our bishops who wholeheartedly believe in the mission of Catholic education. We are a team committed to service, mission, and community, and it is a blessing to companion our schools on their journeys.

We are grateful for all educators in the Diocese of Orange – teachers, staff, principals, presidents. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us, “A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to become saints.” We are thankful for your commitment to faith, excellence, and stewardship in our schools.

As we journey into the month of November, please continue to pray for all those involved in the ministry of Catholic education, our leaders in our church and leaders of this nation. In the busyness of our lives, it is sometimes difficult to recognize those moments of grace and light that surround us. May we all strive to recognize God’s presence in our lives and the graces that illuminate our work and our world.