Teachers prepare for a new year at liturgy

Educators Lisa Duffy, Notre Dame Academy; Meredith Worland, St. Aloysius School; Carol Nord, Nativity Academy; and Julie Davis, St. John Paul II School; from left, served as gift bearers during the annual Mass for elementary educators held this year at St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Road, on Aug. 10. This year’s theme was “Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ.” (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told teachers gathered Aug. 10 at St. Margaret Mary Church that a classroom is like a garden and “God does the growing.”

Approximately 750 elementary school educators filled St. Margaret Mary for the annual opening school liturgy to celebrate their ministry as Catholic school teachers and reflect on the upcoming school year.

The theme for the 2018-19 school year is “Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ.”

During his homily, Archbishop Kurtz said “we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.”

“You are thinking, I’m sure, of your own teachers, those who had a big effect on your life. But, it’s even the teachers with whom you will serve.”

He said one of the factors that make up the “quality and fabric” of Catholic schools is their capacity to welcome one another.

One of the greatest ways to discern a school’s vibrancy, he said, is to see “whether teachers seek the success of the other teacher. Whether your desire is to make one another successful,” he said.

The archbishop also repeated his metaphor of the classroom as a garden where God does the growing.

“It’s God that does the growing and you and I are the ones who are called to prepare the environment for that growth to occur,” he said.

Following the liturgy, Jessica Young, a second-grade teacher at St. Agnes School, shared remarks on the role of a Catholic school teacher.

Young, who was chosen to speak by the Office of Catholic Schools, said Catholic educators are “living mirrors of Christ.”

“The nobility of the task to which teachers are called demands that, in imitation of Christ who is the only teacher, they reveal the Christian message not only by word but also by every gesture of their behavior,” she said.

Young said each teacher is called by God to work for the “sanctification of the word and to communicate the truth.”

“We have the role to serve human needs, especially those of the poor and oppressed, and foster justice and mercy among all God’s people,” she said.

There are 49 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in seven counties in the Archdiocese of Louisville serving approximately 19,500 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. There are approximately 1,600 Catholic school teachers in the archdiocese — about 1,000 elementary and 600 in high school.

Five teachers received the Catholic Education Foundation Innovation Award. The annual award was established by the Dan Ulmer family to honor “excellent and dedicated Catholic school teachers, with two to five years of experience, whose innovative and creative approach to learning inspires outstanding student achievement.”

Recipients of the Innovation Award received a $2,500 monetary gift for their own use. The 2018 recipients were: Alex Dotsey of St. Patrick School; Mary Hearne of St. Aloysius School in Pewee Valley, Ky.; Caitlin Ousley of  St. Leonard School; Chrissie Perry of St. Stephen Martyr School and Jessica Young of St. Agnes School.

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