by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In a live broadcast from Bishop Ward High School here on May 6, the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) announced this year’s Michael and Patty Morrisey Angel Among Us honorees.
And there were one or two more than usual.
“We couldn’t think of a more deserving group of people,” announced CEF board chair Derek Teeter, “than the teachers in our archdiocese.”
“Their unselfish and courageous efforts ensured that our children continued to receive a quality Catholic education despite the circumstances of the pandemic,” he continued.
This is the highest honor CEF awards each year. Honorees are chosen for their support of Catholic education in the archdiocese and particularly for their support of students in financial need.
Every teacher in the archdiocese will receive a special letter from CEF announcing this honor. The award will be formally presented at Gaudeamus on Oct. 23.
Gaudeamus is CEF’s largest fundraiser and consistently ranks as one of the top five galas in the city. More than 1000 people attend each year.
Last year’s event was held virtually because of the pandemic; this year, the gala will be in person once again.
“It’s been a very challenging year for our nation and for our world,” said Teeter. “But it’s also been a very special year for Catholic education and for our Catholic schools.
“Our schools remained open throughout this pandemic, allowing us to serve and support countless children whose families experienced the loss of a job, financial hardship, COVID-related illness and, in some cases, COVID-related death.”
Dr. Vince Cascone, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, echoed those sentiments, recalling visits he made to schools during the pandemic and his conversations with students who acknowledged the hard work of their teachers.
“Our Catholic schools have been a city on a hill,” he said. “But we also know that, even prior to this year, the work [our teachers] have done has been awesome.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann attended the event, telling the online audience that Catholic schools are one of the most important ministries in the archdiocese.
The pandemic, he said, showed us that we can’t always protect our children from every difficulty in life.
“But if they have Jesus Christ,” he said, “if they have a friendship with him, whatever happens to them, they’ll never be alone.
“They’ll never be without a reason for hope, for joy and a reason to love.”
The archbishop called archdiocesan Catholic schools a bright light that shown in the darkness of the pandemic.
“And our schools were able to stay open because of our teachers — because of their dedication and their willingness to go the extra mile, sometimes the extra 10 miles,” he said. “We thank all of them for what they do year after year, but especially this year.
“They’ve stepped up in extraordinary ways to make possible that our young people continue to learn in a Christian environment and continue to develop their skills and talents and abilities to give glory to God.”
For more information about Gaudeamus and to purchase tickets to the event, visit the website at: cefks.org/gaudeamus.