by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If you want to understand Vincent Cascone, you must know that he has three passions: his faith, his family and Catholic education.
“Everything has been directed by those three things,” said Cascone, principal of Visitation School in Kansas City, Missouri. “They’ve led me to where I was teaching, as a principal and to pursue this opportunity with the archdiocese.”
The opportunity is this: On July 1, Cascone will officially succeed Dr. Kathy O’Hara as superintendent of archdiocesan schools and division secretary of the archdiocese’s family and child formation division.
O’Hara served as associate superintendent from 1998 to 2003, and as superintendent since 2003. She announced her impending retirement in October 2018.
Succeeding a highly successful predecessor will be a challenge, but it’s something that he’s done before. When he was 27 years old, he succeeded a long-serving Sister at a high school where the principals had always been members of a religious order.
Cascone wasn’t looking for a new position when he learned of the opening at the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. But when a friend brought it to his attention, he realized it was something he was at least open to.
Cascone got to know O’Hara while fulfilling internship requirements for his doctorate. So, after some research and talking to O’Hara, he applied. He was interviewed by a search committee and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, who ultimately chose him.
“What I heard from people during the interview process is that it is very important to be supportive and collaborative with principals and pastors, not be someone who comes in and says, ‘No, this is how it needs to be done,’” said Cascone.
“It’s about building relationships, being supportive and having ideas,” he added. “It’s about listening to what pastors and principals want.”
Cascone believes that Catholic schools should be “unapologetically Catholic.”
“With Catholic schools, we have to be careful to not water down our faith,” he said. “Our faith is what sets us apart. It’s why we exist. It’s easy, sometimes, for the sake of what we think would be increased enrollment, or this or that, to change some of those things. It’s important to be true to who we are. . . . What we have to offer that other schools do not is our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Some of the challenges he faced as principal he will also face as superintendent.
“In my role as a principal, there are things I have to address where the parents may feel one way and the teachers another way,” he said. “There can be a lot of ‘noise’ or ‘cloudiness’ about it. You have to have an ability to hear all that, take it in, and weed through it and have a laser focus on the main thing, the most important thing.
“As a superintendent, you need to do that. And to support pastors and principals, you need to listen to the challenges they’re going through and work with them to get that laser focus.”
Cascone is already working with O’Hara in hopes of making the transition smooth. From now until July 1, he’ll attend a number of meetings and get to know the principals and archdiocesan schools.
O’Hara believes the leadership of archdiocesan schools is being left in good hands.“[Cascone] is a great listener,” she said. “He has good relationships with people in his school community. He has a great sense of humor, and there’s a steadiness about him. I think the fact he has a large family . . . is very beneficial.”