The Family That Prays Together, Stays (In Catholic School) Together

| February 4, 2014
Kinne 1

The Kinne family

He was a student in Central New York Catholic schools for 13 years. He now teaches French at Bishop Grimes Prep, where he won an award for his dedication to Catholic education. His wife also teaches at Grimes, and his two children are students at Blessed Sacrament.

Pat Kinne attended Syracuse’s St Vin­cent’s, St. Lucy’s, Blessed Sacrament and Grimes. His mother taught at St. Lucy’s for 21 years, which he says definitely influenced his willingness to teach in the Syracuse Diocese.

Yet he was raised in — and still attends — a Protestant church. Have differences between the Christian traditions ever been a challenge for him as a student or teacher?

“No,” Kinne said. “Even as a student, I just found it really interesting to see the differences but more so the similarities between our faiths. It’s never been an issue.”

In fact, he very much missed being in a faith-based educational setting in his first job as a public school teacher. “One of the things I missed the most when I was teaching [in public school] was never being able to cross that line. [In Catholic school] we could always talk about how this or that related to faith. And I missed that a lot.”

Kinne’s upbringing in the Reformed Church of Syracuse, a denomination that dates back to the Protestant Reformation in 16th Century Europe, included spending summers at Camp Fowler in Lake Pleasant, NY. Just after graduating from Bishop Grimes in 1998, he took a job as an arts and crafts counselor at the camp. That summer he met Sarah Huizenga, a fellow counselor from Kankakee, Ill. Kinne and Sarah became friends and eventually began dating. They were married in 2002 and settled in Saint Ann, Ill., close to Sarah’s parents.

Kinne stayed in touch with his principal at Grimes, Rev. Msgr. George Sheehan. While teaching in Illinois in 2003, Kinne contacted Sheehan to let him know that he was looking for a job change. Soon after, the principal called him back and said Grimes needed a French teacher.

“We just took it on faith that that was what we were supposed to do, and it’s been really good for us,” Kinne said.

The move back to Syracuse brought Kinne and Sarah closer to his parents, Chuck and Margaret “Ellie” Kinne. Just how close? A realtor recommended a house in the eastern part of the city that was just six doors down from Chuck and Ellie. They bought it, and, Sarah said, “It worked out very well.”

Sarah, a Spanish teacher, soon began substitute teaching at Grimes. “It was comfort,” she said. “I liked the atmosphere there. It was like family.” She is now both a foreign language teacher and director of the attendance office at the school.

“I’m not Catholic,” she said, “but I get to learn a lot of the traditions and then I get to share them in Spanish. So they’re learning ‘The Our Father’ in Spanish.”

Pat Kinne chairs the Foreign Language Department at Grimes, is Student Council Advisor and also sits on the schools’ Consultative Board. In addition, he is vice-president of the Reformed Church of Syracuse’s Consistory, which is that congregation’s governing board.

He was honored to win Bishop Grimes Prep’s Barrett Award, which is given to an alumnus who shows outstanding leadership and dedication to Catholic education. “As an alumnus and a teacher, that really meant a lot,” he said.

A happy by-product of being foreign language teachers at Grimes is that Kinne and Sarah are able to travel with students to Europe. They have taken groups to London, Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. “It’s fun to see the kids experiencing something new that you can’t translate in the classroom,” Sarah said.

Their daughter Hannah is 8 years old and son Alec is 6. When the time came for Hannah to start kindergarten, Kinne wanted to enroll her at Blessed Sacrament. “I dragged my feet,” said Sarah. “It was hard to resist Huntington’s [Huntington School in Syracuse] proximity and price. So we tried it out for a year. But it was not the best place for Hannah.”

The couple said Blessed Sacrament Principal Andrea Polcaro welcomed Hannah to 1st grade with open arms. And when it was Alec’s turn to start kindergarten, he started at Blessed Sacrament, too. “It was a no-brainer,” Sarah said.

When asked what he likes about his school, Alec returned the question with a question: “What about ten things?” he asked, grinning.

The Kinne kids have become regulars in the halls of Bishop Grimes. They have attended basketball games, homecoming dances, concerts, award ceremonies and graduations at the school. The faculty and staff know them well.

Hannah sees many similarities between her Catholic school and Sunday School lessons. She said she’s learned many of the same stories, and in both places, she knows people are praying for her and she’s praying for them.

“Knowing that they’re getting academically tended to but also spiritually tended to—that’s key,” Kinne said. “Just seeing the love and care that all of their teachers have for them, it just doesn’t get any better than that. n

Christy Perry is a freelance writer in Syracuse, NY.

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Category: Catholic Identity, Featured

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