Monthly Message from NCEA President/CEO, October 2016


Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith

Catholic schools are communities of faith in which students, teachers and families experience the celebration of Christian values through worship, study, caring relationships and the development of each child’s potential. The goal of all Catholic schools is to form students in faith, to help them grow in knowledge and to teach the students to show their love of God through service to others. The future of Catholic schools is the responsibility of all of us – clergy, community leaders, educators, parents, and indeed, all Catholics.

Last week, I had the honor to celebrate the inspiring work of some remarkable people – our Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award honorees. On Monday, October 3, NCEA honored the Catholic Schools Office in the Archdiocese of New York, under the leadership of Dr. Timothy McNiff, patrons of education, Carl and Mary Kay Wolford from Indianapolis and the family of Mr. Edward Ryan from Pittsburgh with the annual Seton award. We honored our long-time supporter of Catholic education, Mr. Sam Rosen, with the NCEA President’s Award. In addition, we were blessed to also have with us three Seton Scholars who represent the 1.9 million students attending Catholic schools nationwide: Christian Martinez from Cardinal Hayes High School (Archdiocese of New York), Avery Kraft from Holy Family Catholic School (Archdiocese of Indianapolis) and Elizabeth Farnan from Seton La Salle High School (Diocese of Pittsburgh). I encourage you to read about their contributions and join us in celebrating their outstanding work.

At the gala I was struck by the joy and passion of the community gathered – joy that comes from hearing and sharing stories of great work in Catholic education, and passion for the mission of Catholic schools and the exciting work being done.

The results of this joy and passion for Catholic schools, the hard work of all of us, is demonstrated in this year’s list of 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Please join me in congratulating the 37 Catholic Schools that shine among the 50 2016 National Blue Ribbon private schools recognized. Each of these schools exemplifies the best of Catholic education, and all of us at the NCEA are extremely proud of the efforts of these school communities that led to this tremendous accomplishment.

While the NCEA Seton Awards and the National Blue Ribbon Schools are two big annual recognitions, every day we need to celebrate our strengths, acknowledge and address challenges, do the hard work, and embrace the wonderful opportunities before us with hope. This must happen in our classrooms, our offices and our homes across the country. Please, share your good news with NCEA by tweeting us @NCEATalk, following us on Facebook and emailing us at

Finally, registration is now open for NCEA 2017 Convention & Expo in St. Louis. Join us April 18 – 20 for this one-of-a-kind event that brings together Catholic educators to exchange ideas and debut cutting-edge research and technologies related to education. Click here to learn why you should attend, to view the preliminary program and to register today. See you there!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Thomas W. Burnford, D.Min.