Saintly Logos for Pilot School Regions

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The silhouettes of three saints will soon be marching into three pilot school regions of the archdiocese.

The depictions of three saints will grace the newly designed logos for the new pilot regions of the Northwest/South Bronx, Rockland and Staten Island, which began operating in September, announced Dr. Timothy McNiff, archdiocesan superintendent of schools.

Inspired by Cardinal Dolan’s concept that the regions operate under the patronage of a saint to spiritually guide their work in Catholic education, the three regional boards of trustees chose their patrons, then selected a logo from among various design concepts that visually incorporated iconography and symbolism associated with that saint.

The logo, which will be incorporated into regional letterhead and into the individual school’s print and online materials, will serve the dual purpose of creating a “brand identity” for each respective region, while reinforcing the regions’ Catholic identity and membership in the larger archdiocesan school system.

“Each region has a distinct personality, but we are all part of one New York Catholic school community,” Dr. McNiff said.

The logos, he added, “graphically communicate each region’s character, but also the shared Catholic history, values and mission that bind us together in our geographic diversity.”

The chosen regional patron saints all have significance to Catholic education. They are as follows:

Staten Island

• St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a native of New York City who is the first U.S-born saint and foundress of the first Catholic school in the nation. She also founded the Sisters of Charity.

Northwest/South Bronx

• St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist priest who, as the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia from 1852 to 1860, founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the country. He had immigrated from his native Bohemia to New York, where he was ordained for the Diocese in New York in 1836 and then, in 1842, became the first Redemptorist to profess vows in the New World.

Rockland

• St. Dominic, a Spanish monk who, in the 13th century, founded the Order of Preachers, more commonly known as the Dominicans, an order long associated with a great respect for study and learning.

Each Catholic school region is a separate, nonprofit, educational corporation chartered by the New York State Department of Education.

Msgr. Thomas Bergin, board chair for Staten Island and pastor of St. Charles parish, Staten Island, said the selection for the region of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose familial roots include Staten Island, was “a no-brainer.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is credited for having started the first Catholic school in the nation, in Emmitsburg, Md., where she also founded the Sisters of Charity, the first American congregation of religious sisters that today includes the Sisters of Charity of New York.

Furthermore, Msgr. Bergin noted, the Sisters of Charity once sponsored a number of Catholic schools on Staten Island.

Msgr. Bergin is a former archdiocesan vicar for education and a former president of Cathedral High School in Manhattan, as well as a former principal of Msgr. Farrell High School and Moore Catholic High School, both on Staten Island.

Msgr. Bergin’s aunt was also a Sister of Charity.

He recalled that as a young Catholic schoolboy in the Bronx, he and his peers prayed for the advancement of the sainthood cause of then-Mother Seton.

“Here we are, almost 70 years later,” Msgr. Bergin said. “It’s a natural that we should invoke her as our patron. It was a unanimous choice of all us that she’s the one for Staten Island.

“She’s the patron of the region, she’s in our prayers and we invoke her to keep an eye on things for us.

St. John Neumann will advocate on behalf of the Northwest/South Bronx, said Father Joseph Franco, board chair for the region and pastor of Sacred Heart parish in the Bronx.

“When he took over Philadelphia, there were very few Catholic schools,” Father Franco said. “By the time he was finished, there were many, many more. We’re hoping he’ll do the same here.”

The issue of immigration, and the fact that St. John Neumann himself immigrated to New York, also resonates with the region, Father Franco said.

“He represents to us all the great hopes of present-day immigrant families who arrive to the Bronx looking especially for a new possibility for their children to be educated in Catholic schools and to receive a fine education.”

The choice of St. Dominic for Rockland was also appropriate, primarily because the Dominican Sisters both of Blauvelt and Sparkill have a rich teaching history there, said Father Thomas Madden, board chair for Rockland and pastor of St. Peter parish in Haverstraw.

“For us, that was a big draw to Dominic,” he said. St. Dominic as a teacher and his role in the renewal and revitalization of the Church in France during the 13th century also factored into the decision, Father Madden said.

As “another stage in the life of our schools” progresses, “I hope and pray all the saints,” St. Dominic among them, “will be pulling for us and interceding for us,” Father Madden said.

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