A Decade of Honor and Celebration

| February 18, 2016

Catholic Schools Celebrate 10th annual Light the Way Dinner

By Pat Shea

For the past ten years, the Diocese of Syracuse Catholic Schools Office has made a point of honoring individuals who are committed to the mission and success of Catholic School education at its annual Light the Way Dinner. The dinner has been a traditional kick-off celebration for Catholic Schools Week.

The event has grown in size each year, with over 500 in attendance in previous years, and proceeds from the dinner are used to provide financial support to families of Catholic School students in need of tuition assistance. In the past, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Catholic Schools Light The Way logoOver the years, several awards have been presented at the dinner, including the Witness to Faith Award, the Superintendent’s Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Light the Way Award.

The Witness to Faith Award is presented to a Catholic school educator who is not only a teacher or a professional who instructs and offers knowledge to students, but helps with the overall development and enhancement of faith in others. Previous honorees have included Peg Brown, former principal of St. Patrick’s School in Oneida (2011); Sr. Anna Mae Collins, CSJ, principal of Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Utica (2012); Sally Lisi, principal of Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville (2012); Rev. Richard P. Morisette of St. Stephen the King Church in Oswego (2015); and ADAPEP Counselor Patricia Schramm of Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School in Syracuse (2015).

The Superintendent’s Service Medal is presented to a member of the school community that has volunteered a significant amount of his/her time and talent to help others. Past honorees include Mary Ellen Salanger, a member of the Board of the Catholic Education Foundation of the Southern Tier who volunteered countless hours to help Broome County Catholic Schools (2011); Dr. Jennifer Redmore of St. James School, Johnson City (2014); and Ann and Dave Keeney of St. Mary’s Academy in Baldwinsville (2014).

The Distinguished Alumni Award honors an alumni of a diocesan Catholic school who has “successfully used the values they learned in Catholic school to make a positive impact on the world,” and remains connected to helping support and promote Catholic education. Previous honorees included Michael D’Avirro, Bishop Grimes Class of ’78 (2011); Lucy Paris, Bishop Ludden High School Class of ’73 (2013); and Terry Gallagher, Broome County Catholic Schools Class of 1989 (2014).

The Light the Way Award is the highlight each year, honoring an individual or organization that “has served the Catholic Schools of the diocese with distinction over a period of years,” and has made a “memorable and lasting impact on the life of the diocese due to their work in the field of Catholic education.”

Previous winners of the Light the Way Award include Sr. Mary Anne Heenan, CSJ (2011); Connie Berry, former editor-in-chief of The Catholic Sun, (2014); and in 2015, in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, the diocese honored approximately 21 sisters and their religious orders that have consistently supported the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Syracuse, with the Light the Way Award.

“This year’s celebration is an important milestone in honoring Catholic education and those who have dedicated their lives to serving this important mission,” said Superintendent of Catholic Schools William Crist. “Over the past ten years, these honorees have represented the best there is about Catholic education and the many hands—and hearts—it takes to keep our schools vibrant and our students educated in faith.”

In 2016, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, the Light the Way Award honorees will be individuals who have provided 40 years of service or more to Catholic Schools. The decision to honor this group came as a direct request from the faculty throughout the diocese, who felt this group deserved to be recognized during this special anniversary.

“Forty years of service is just an incredible commitment,” said Crist. “This group has undoubtedly seen many changes in our Catholic schools here in the Diocese of Syracuse but also seen the fortitude we have had continuing to provide an outstanding education that combines the best of academics and the solid foundation of the faith. For various reasons, they have stuck with us and helped to make our Catholic schools even stronger. The relationships they have formed with students and families are truly remarkable. I’m sure each and every one of them has some interesting stories to tell, and we look forward to honoring them at this year’s Light the Way event.”

Pat Shea is the former associate editor of The Catholic Sun.

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Category: Stewardship

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