Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


‘New Tradition’ Blesses School Year, Marks Anniversaries

By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published September 13, 2007

Beginning what leaders hope is a new tradition in the archdiocese, faculty and staff from archdiocesan Catholic schools gathered Sept. 4 for an employee recognition Mass and day of in-service at St. Pius X High School.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated the Mass, during which faculty and staff members from the schools were recognized for their years of service. Archdiocesan superintendent of schools Diane Starkovich said that this event marked something new in the archdiocese that she hopes will kick off school years for decades to come.

“It was the opening for an all-day professional development day with teachers and staffs from all of our schools,” she said. “In the past, an evening Mass occurred at the beginning of the school year to honor our teachers and staffs and to have the archbishop bless the beginning of the school year.”

Starkovich further explained the “new tradition.” “The archbishop (or his representative) will open the day with a beginning-of-the-school-year Mass. At the conclusion of the Mass, an awards presentation will occur to hand out service pins to all employees who have reached five-year incremental milestones in service to our schools.”

In his homily, the archbishop encouraged the educators to bring Christ forth into a world of darkness.

“There is a more pervasive darkness that covers the eyes and hearts of our society and world. It is the darkness of skepticism and doubt, of cynicism and greed, of hedonism and despair,” Archbishop Gregory said. “Our youngsters and indeed our very selves labor in the brightness of daylight surrounded by a gloom and hopelessness that are unworthy of those who belong to Jesus Christ.”

“As Catholic school teachers you are called—as Paul reminded the Thessalonians—that we are not to be people who work under those shadows and fears,” he told them. “Your youngsters depend upon you to help them discover the Light of Jesus Christ. Indeed it is for this very reason that our parents sacrifice to provide a Catholic education for their children—they want their youngsters to come to know and to love Jesus Christ and to believe in the truth and light that He brings to an often shadowy world.”

The Mass was followed by an in-service day of professional development, led by Sister Mary Angela Shaughnessy, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, Ky. Sister Mary Angela holds a doctorate and a juris doctorate. Having taught at all levels of Catholic education—from elementary through graduate school, Sister Mary Angela currently serves as the executive director of the Education Law Institute in Louisville.

Prior to her presentation, Archbishop Gregory and Starkovich, along with associate superintendent Tom Campbell, presented service pins to those who had served in Catholic schools for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years.