Speaker extols Catholic education

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier    |    02.25.2005
Category: Local News


Sister of St. Joseph Carol Cimino doesn't pull any punches when she cites the need for parents to invest in Catholic education.

"There are some people out there who really, really can't afford it. For the others, it's priorities," Sister Cimino told the Catholic Courier. "They've got money to go to Disney World, buy cell phones, SUVs, $150 sneakers. We're greatly influenced by the culture -- you've got to have the best. Well you know, that's true in education, too."

"Every document out of the Catholic Church, whether it's from Vatican or U.S. bishops, has confirmed that the best way to help parents hand down the faith is Catholic schools," she continued. "What do you want for your kids? You always want the best. This is the best -- you pass on the faith. For 5 {1/2} hours a day, it's like your kid is in church, because everything is rooted in the Gospel. Wouldn't you want that for your children?"

Sister Cimino, a nationally known lecturer, spoke Feb. 10 to teachers and parents at Holy Family School in Dansville. Her talk, "Why Should I Put My Kid in a Catholic School?" was held in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week.

Catholic schools, said Sister Cimino, "reinforce during the day what parents teach their children on nights and weekends." She also pointed out such intangibles as teachers, who are "faith role models for children" because they willingly work for low pay; and high academic standards. "We do a great job. You want proof? Go to the test scores," she remarked.

Sister Cimino, 61, is a Sister of St. Joseph of Rochester who now resides in the Albany area. She taught at several Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Rochester before joining her alma mater, Nazareth Academy, in 1979 as an administrator. She later served as Nazareth's director of development before moving to Albany in 1987. There, she was executive director of Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State before taking on her current position -- as national consultant with William H. Sadlier Co., a Catholic publishing firm based in New York City.

Many of Sister Cimino's talks deal with marketing and recruiting for Catholic schools. "I probably travel 250 to 300 days of the year. As my vitae says, I will talk to anybody who will listen. And if they don't listen, I'm still going to talk," she quipped.

Sister Cimino's greatest claim to fame is being a three-time winner on the game show "Jeopardy" in 1986. "That's what gets the applause (during lectures). So all that other stuff you ever did in your life is nothing," she said with a laugh.

Deborah Goering, Holy Family School's principal, would beg to differ. She said Sister Cimino's tireless efforts are crucial in leading families toward Catholic schools.

"People say 'I can't afford to,' but you really can't afford not to," Goering said.

She acknowledged that some parents, and their children, may struggle with the sacrifices involved. "For some people it's a little harder (to appreciate.) But they will later," said Goering, saying she knows many successful adults in her region who attended Catholic schools.

Holy Family School was created this past year in a consolidation that saw St. Joseph's School in Wayland close so it could merge with St. Mary's School in Dansville. The newly named school is located in the former St. Mary's building and has an enrollment of 135 in grades pre-kindergarten through 5. Goering said the adjustment to this new arrangement -- with many students traveling longer distances -- has been difficult at times. But she lauded the parental support, saying, "I have never worked with such enthusiastic parents."

"The reality is, they're the ones who make sure Catholic education is staying in Holy Family Parish," Goering said, noting that families come from as far away as Wayland, Nunda and Keshequa.

Such people could stand a word of encouragement now and then, Goering and Sister Cimino said.

"They need to be reminded and reinforced that the decision they're making is the right one," Goering remarked.

"Not a lot of people are telling these people they're doing a good job. Catholic-school parents have really not been praised for what they do," Sister Cimino added. "Once in a while you've got to say to them, 'Look, you're doing a good job here.'"

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