Mary Beth Fuehrer has left Rochester’s Holy Rosary School after more than three decades of service there, retiring from her position as principal at the end of the 2003-04 school year. She has undertaken a new, part-time position as faith-formation coordinator at St. Michael’s Parish in Rochester.
“I think I’ve come to an age where I need one-half of a job instead of a job and a half,” Fuehrer said in a recent interview with the Catholic Courier.
Fuehrer earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin in 1967 and a master’s degree in elementary education in 1976 from Rochester’s Nazareth College. She began teaching at Holy Rosary School in September 1967 and stayed there until 1985.
In 1985 Fuehrer left Holy Rosary to become faith-formation coordinator for St. Michael’s Parish, where she remained for the next three years. In 1988, she returned to Holy Rosary School, this time as its principal.
Fuehrer said she found the roles of both teacher and principal to be rewarding. Working as a teacher at the school for 18 years gave her the experience and maturity she needed to lead the school as principal, she said.
Fuehrer said she has seen many changes take place at the school during her tenure, with the most dramatic one being the Dec. 19, 1981, fire that burned the school building to the ground. Classes were held in the former Holy Apostles School building on Rochester’s Lyell Avenue until September 1984, when they were moved to the new Holy Rosary School building, which Fuehrer dubbed a “phoenix from the ashes.”
Fuehrer has also seen positive changes at the school. In 1989, for example, she brought the Rochester City School District’s hot-lunch program to Holy Rosary. Before the introduction of that program, many students simply did not bring a lunch to school, “and I couldn’t stand it,” Fuehrer said.
In the mid-1990s, she oversaw the addition of an extended-day program, making the school open to students from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Around the same time, the school began taking part in the Wegmans Early Childhood Education Program, which enabled the school to provide preschool education and care to 3- and 4-year-olds between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Although she said she loved being a teacher and a principal, she is happy about her new position. She hopes her job as faith-formation coordinator will be less stressful but is glad to still be involved with Catholic education. Since most of her adult life has been spent in that field, she considers herself, as well as other teachers and principals at Catholic schools, to be professional catechists.
“I really believe that every confirmed Catholic needs to teach the word of God. Some people do it professionally like I do in a Catholic school or a religious-education program, but everyone has to do it by their words and actions or they’re not doing the will of God,” Fuehrer said.