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Gaudeamus honors teachers of the archdiocese

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Vince Cascone (second from left) joined students from Bishop Ward and Resurrection schools in Kansas City, Kansas, as Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann spoke about the important role of our Catholic school teachers during the pandemic. Archdiocesan teachers are the honorees of this year’s Catholic Education Foundation Gaudeamus gala, it was announced May 6. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JILL RAGAR ESFELD

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.

Vince Cascone, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese, speaks before this year’s Gaudeamus honorees were announced at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JILL RAGAR ESFELD

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.”

Vince Anch, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, speaks at the announcement of the Gaudeamus honorees. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JILL RAGAR ESFELD

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.”

This year, Gaudeamus will honor archdiocesan teachers for their efforts to teach in-person throughout the 2020-2021 school year despite COVID-19 restrictions. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JILL RAGAR ESFELD

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.

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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