Welcoming Students Back to School
This week begins a new school year for many of our Catholic schools in the Diocese, and with it, we welcome some new faces in leadership posts and a new school bearing the name of a saint who was once among us.
At St. Mary-Sacred Heart School in North Attleborough, longtime teacher Lisa Serak is now its new principal. Serak is a lifelong Catholiceducator who has previously taught at Bishop Feehan High School, St. Mary Academy-Bay View, and has been, for the past 15 years, the middle school ELA teacher at St. Mary Sacred-Heart School. She has been nominated for multiple national teacher awards, such as the Disney American Teacher Award and the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers Award. In 1992, she received the Bishop Feehan Distinguished Alumni Award.
At St. John Paul II School in Hyannis, Susan Niden will serve as Interim President for 2022-2023 academic year. For 29 years, she was the principal of Jackson School in Newton, Mass., a Catholic coeducational school for students in grades K through sixth. Upon retiring from there in 2019, she served as an educational consultant for the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Boston, working to support principals in professional growth. Earlier in her career, she was the principal of Keith Catholic School in Lowell, Mass.
James P. Benson begins this year as President of Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth. He was most recently Acting Head of School for DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, MN, where he instilled the Gospel values, love of learning, and respect for all persons as the foundation of the school’s culture over the course of his 17-year career at the school in various leadership roles. A New York City native with family in New England, he shared that he is excited to enter the next chapter of his career at Bishop Stang, where he can focus his energy on the role of president and enable the high school to take further strides into its bright future.
Back in late March, it was announced that our new school in New Bedford would be known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta School. A special meeting to reveal the name was held then for the students, families, and faculty of the new school, which has been formed with the merging of the former Holy Family-Holy Name School and St. James-St. John School in that city.
I am so pleased to now have in the Diocese of Fall River a school bearing the name of this special saint. The name of our newest school not only honors the charitable works of Mother Teresa but also honors the blessing New Bedford received with her 1995 visit there. It was of utmost importance to me that the name of the new school be representative of the city of New Bedford, and there is no doubt that St. (Mother) Teresa continues to touch the hearts of many people and, I am sure, showers her prayers, intercession, and blessing on that beautiful city.
A Special Collection to Support Catholic Education
For the first time, a special second collection will be taken at all parishes in the Diocese of Fall River to help make Catholic schools more accessible to more families.
This collection will benefit FACE -the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, which raises money for need-based scholarships to assist with the cost of a Catholic education in the Diocese of Fall River. This collection will be taken during Masses throughout the diocese on the weekend of September 10-11, 2022.
FACE wants to meet the challenges of serving diverse populations while addressing the increase in the demand for financial assistance for families striving to send their children to a Catholic school in the Diocese. There are 19 Catholic schools in the Diocese that enroll more than 5,400 children across grades K-12. In these schools, students receive a values- and faith-based education in a high-quality environment dedicated to helping them reach their God-given potential.
My Brother’s Keeper
On Wednesday, August 24th, many of the Diocese of Fall River staff volunteered at My Brother’s Keeper at its locations in Dartmouth and Easton. I was happy to join them at the beginning of the day to offer a blessing before the team went about the work of carrying out the mission of caring for our neighbors. Remarkably, the team assisted in delivering food to 51 families in need. It is paramount for the faithful to not only teach the Corporal Works of Mercy but, more importantly, to be Christ in the world as we live them out.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha