Their students may have had the day off, but for the 900 Catholic school teachers in the Diocese of Buffalo, Friday was a day of convocation at Cardinal O'Hara High school. It was a day focused on professional development and served as an opportunity to refocus on the mission of Catholic Schools.
"Each one of us has prepared all of our lives to be here in this place," said Sister Carol Cimino, SCJ, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, in welcoming the educators . "For all eternity, God has called us to be Catholic school teachers who have the privilege of touching and forming eternity in each of our students. We have been graced to witness the unfolding of young people. We have been blessed to be present at the commencement of their lives as children of God. We have been gifted to be the light in the often dark world and shine the light of God on their often confused lives."
A meeting like this one is held every two years. Teachers chose from among 55 different breakout sessions. They included everything from "Making social justice real in the Classroom" to "YouTube for Educators".
Father Joseph Gatto, president-rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, served as the keynote speaker urging the teachers to 'think outside of the box' and 'assume the position of a servant'. "You, as teachers, are the first representatives of a compassionate Church. We get to see, face-to-face, a Church come to life and reborn in the classroom, in the music, in the sports program."
Teachers were greeted at each entrance by a few students of Cardinal O'Hara, and they were treated to the music of the school's Song Corps during a morning Mass in the auditorium, celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone. "We're doing a very, very fine job in so many ways," said Bishop Malone, who was once a teacher himself. "We have the privilege and the responsibility of accompanying our children and their families not only through a successful school journey, but we can also accompany them on the journey toward Heaven."