The date for the Diocese of Raleigh’s Catholic Schools Professional Development Day had been chosen long before pressure systems created Hurricane Florence.
The storm made landfall Sept. 14 and brought devastation to much of eastern North Carolina and some schools in the diocese.
Leaders considered canceling. They thought about rescheduling. In the end, though, they saved the date - Sept. 28 - and used it as an opportunity to highlight community.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Michael Fedewa, superintendent of schools, reminded educators that part of their faith was showing support to their colleagues impacted by the storm.
While “Preparing the Way: Propagating the Faith” was the long-planned theme for the day, “solidarity” became the word of the day.
The day-long conference, which was held at Cardinal Gibbons High School, began with Mass celebrated by more than 600 educators and Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama.
In his homily, the bishop asked teachers if they liked to teach. When they answered ‘yes,’ he smiled. “OK. Then teach them what you love to teach. The essence of everything you do is to show how we live our faith and how we project our love of what we teach,” he said.
Though Mass is traditionally celebrated at this event, there is not usually an offertory collection.
On this day, however, more than $4,000 in cash and gift cards was collected to a benefit those in flood-affected areas. Teachers also donated new backpacks and 750-pounds of school supplies to help those who had lost everything. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh collected the backpacks and supplies, and will distribute.
After Mass, educators attended three sessions of their choosing. Options included everything from Tech Tools in the World Language Classroom to Sensory Smarts. All math teachers were required to go to a math workshop that discussed updated diocesan math standards. Other popular sessions focused on literacy, art, technology, music, leadership and STEM.
This year, the development day was optional for educators in areas hit particularly hard by the storm. Those included: St. Mary and St. Mark in Wilmington, St. Paul in New Bern, St. Egbert in Morehead City and Annunciation in Havelock.
- Mandy Howard