Monthly Message From NCEA Interim President – March 2016

The following message is an update from Dr. Thomas Burnford, NCEA’s Interim President.

Tom's Message March JPEG

Greetings!  In just a few weeks, I will join nearly 5,000 Catholic school educators in sunny San Diego for the NCEA 2016 Convention & Expo to celebrate the gift and impact of Catholic school education nationwide. As the largest private-education association gathering in the nation, this unique professional development opportunity will bring us together to grow in faith and knowledge and to celebrate Catholic school education. Ultimately, we gather for the sake of those we serve – the students in our schools – whom God has called us to love, form and educate.

At the same time, during this season of Lent, we look at ourselves and our choices, our attitudes and behaviors, to seek new ways of living in relationship with Jesus Christ that will bring us the peace and wholeness for which we all yearn.  We do so both personally and professionally as Catholic educators.

Whether you’ll be joining us in San Diego or observing from afar, I challenge you to consider three self-development goals:

  1. Learn at least one new idea that significantly enriches your teaching or professional career. Explore a new professional development offering to grow in your area of expertise or discover something in a completely new field.
  2. Meet a new colleague. Make an effort to meet people who serve in the same faith-filled, academically excellent ministry as you do. I encourage you to build your professional and faith network by sharing with others and asking questions to learn from your neighbors.
  3. Embrace the big picture of Catholic school education. Keep in mind that your work is part of Catholic school education that touches lives everywhere. Discover what is happening around you and across the country.

Our nearly 2 million Catholic school students are the reason we, as Catholic educators and leaders, work hard every single day. From the opening prayer to the closing prayer every school day, Catholic school educators impart Catholic identity and guide students to love and serve others just as Jesus did.

In his book, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis says: “Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are the most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture …” This statement is our greatest guide to help us fulfill our mission as “witness teachers.”

Please know that all of us at NCEA are on this Lenten journey with you in prayer and spirit.  We also have a calendar of Lenten resources online at to guide you both personally and professionally.

May God bless all of us engaged in the ministry of Catholic schools during this Lenten season, as we prepare to celebrate Holy Week and Easter.

Thomas W. Burnford, D.Min.