By Elizabeth Lowe
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori told the 1,200 Catholic educators present at the third annual Archdiocese of Baltimore Convocation of Catholic Schools that it is their responsibility, in the mission of Catholic education, to teach all students.
“I know that among us today are faculty who have the privilege and the challenge of teaching rich young men and rich young women, poor young men and poor young women and young men and young women from backgrounds everywhere in between,” Archbishop Lori said in his homily during the opening Mass.
The archbishop addressed educators at the Aug. 19 convocation at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. This year’s theme was “Hearts on Fire.”
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“I’d like you to think with me about one particular rich young man, the one who meets the Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel,” said Archbishop Lori, referring to the man in the Gospel reading who asked Jesus what good he must do to achieve eternal life. “He has a lot to say to us about this new year, and this great mission of education which has been entrusted to us by the Lord.”
He continued, “This whole enterprise is not for the faint of heart. But you wouldn’t be sitting here right now if you weren’t men and women who understand sacrifice and who are ready for a challenge.”
Dr. Barbara McGraw Edmondson, superintendent of Catholic schools, said in her remarks that the new school year is an opportunity for educators to inspire students.
“Counter to conventional wisdom, each and every one of us must wear our hearts on our sleeves,” Dr. Edmondson said.
“This really is a vocation,” said Joan Demetriou, librarian at St. Mark School in Catonsville. “It’s more than a teaching position.”
Isabel Blevins, a religion, English and literature teacher at St. Joseph School in Cockeysville, is excited to watch her students embrace their faith and grow as young Christians.
“It (teaching) is a mission more than a job,” Blevins said. “It can never be a job.”
Blevins was one of nearly 300 Catholic educators with 10 to more than 50 years of service in the system recognized at the convocation. Twenty-five educators were recognized for retiring with more than 25 years of service.
Eleven teaching excellence awards were announced and the Doris Musil Award, the highest education honor presented in the archdiocese, was given to Louis Heidrick, who retired as principal from Calvert Hall College High School in Towson at the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year. He began his teaching career in 1965 at Calvert Hall.
As Catholic educators were recognized, three Catholic school students spoke about how Catholic education has impacted their lives.
“Catholic school has strengthened my values and morals,” said Melissa Emery, a senior at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Essex, who noted that her Catholic education has taught her “it’s not what I do for myself, it’s what I do for others that really matters.”
Alexis Buchanan, a fourth-grader at Monsignor Slade Catholic School in Glen Burnie, and Jayden Carr, an eighth-grader at Our Lady of Victory School in Arbutus, also spoke.
The convocation’s keynote speaker was Jesuit Father James Martin, the unofficial chaplain to the “Colbert Report” TV show on Comedy Central.
As he spoke about joy, humor and laughter, he told countless jokes.
“Joy is the surest sign of the Holy Spirit,” Father Martin said. “Joy shows your faith in God. Humor is a tool for humility. Humor can be a good teaching tool because it sticks with us.”
Click below to view a video on Father Martin’s speech.
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