Shares vision about building Catholic School Culture
The mission of the Catholic Church, and by extension its Catholic Schools, is to introduce the world to its Savior.
This mission concept favorite declaration of Cardinal Francis George, the late Archbishop of Chicago and shared by Father John Belmonte, a Jesuit and new Diocesan Superintendent of Schools.
Father Belmonte shared the message at a meeting with principals on July 8, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice. “That is what we do,” he explained. “That is our mission.”
He added that the world happens to be the school for the principal, the classroom for the teachers, and the family for those who are parents.
“We get to do that as Catholic School educators every day; which in my view is the greatest mission that anyone could have the privilege of serving and why I certainly get up in the morning and what I want to have happen in all Catholic schools – to introduce the world to its Savior! There is nothing better!”
As Superintendent, Father Belmonte said he sees his job – and by extension the entire Office of Education – as helping each principal, and by association each Diocesan Catholic school, to be wildly successful.
“If you are already wildly successful, congratulations, we will continue to facilitate that,” Father continued. “If you’re not quite wildly successful, we will work on that… because if we are, then we are introducing our students, families, teachers, everyone that we are serving, to our Lord, through the Church. Nothing is more important than that.”
Father Belmonte did warn the principals that he obsesses about developing Catholic School culture and its deeper and richer meaning in comparison to Catholic identity. “It is much more than that.”
The gathering began with the Liturgy of the Hours, a daily prayer of the Church, followed by a welcome by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.
The Bishop welcome Father Belmonte and said he was humbled that Father accepted the position with the Diocese, having a strong background in education which is also the Charism of the Jesuit religious order.
Bishop Dewane opened his comments by first thanking the gathered principals for their hard work during the last few months and managing the challenges caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Know that I am very proud of how you handled it, and how we were perceived out in the public arena in handling the online teaching during the spring semester and as we approach reopening in August,” said Bishop Dewane while specifically thanking Interim Superintendent of Schools Ben Hopper for stepping up while also doing double duty as principal at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.
Father Belmonte has a long connection to the Diocese of Venice having visited the area with family, specifically Anna Maria Island in Manatee County, for the past 50 years. He has an extensive background in education as a teacher and administrator, most recently as superintendent of the Diocese of Joliet.