Chicago hosts national Catholic education conference

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Chicago hosts national Catholic education conference

Over 9,000 Catholic educators from across the country gathered in Chicago for the National Catholic Education Association's 2019 convention and expo on April 23-25, 2019, at McCormick Place West. The annual convention draws thousands of members and participants from Catholic school communities, including elementary and secondary school teachers and principals, religious education programs as well as diocesan offices, church pastors, superintendents and school board members. The convention is a forum to exchange ideas, hear about current research and data related to Catholic education and learn about new technology and resources. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Brenna O'Hearn, principal of St. Margaret Mary School in Rockford, Illinois, speaks as teachers and principals give a convention talk April 25 on a 20-year partnership between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Nsukka, Nigeria, to strengthen Catholic education in that country. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Kathleen Johnson, a teacher at St. Viator Grade School in Chicago speaks about the partnership. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Dennis Kurtz from St. Mary Press shares his experience of visiting Nsukka with the partnership. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jim Rigg, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, gives a thumbs up while portraying one of the Blues Brothers at the start of the closing Mass. He quoted the Blues Brothers' characters reminding participants that they are all "on a mission from God." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Before the closing Mass on April 25, James Sellinger, chancellor of education, and Donna Hargens, superintendent, from the Archdiocese of Baltimore announce that next year’s conference will be held in their city. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Bradley Zamora, director of liturgy at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, plays the piano with the band during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Dan Welter, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago, proclaims the Gospel during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jesuit Father John Belmonte, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Joliet, gives the homily during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jenelle Suchy, national scheduling coordinator for Net Ministries, laughs during the homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Janine Winkler, a teacher from Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools in Michigan, prays during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Robert Casey was the main celebrant during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Paulette Clagon, principal St. Gregory the Great School in Whittier, Calif., prays during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Yolanda Gongora, principal at St. John's College in Belize, shares the Sign of Peace during the closing Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Coordinators of NCEA 2019 cheer on participants as they exit the closing Mass on April 25. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Rocio Carballo came all the way from Belize to attend the National Catholic Education Conference held April 23-25 at McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago. It was her seventh year attending the convention.

“In my first year, I thought it would be aimed only to teachers, but it’s more than that. I’ve appreciated the focus on leadership skills and financial oversight for people like me,” said Carballo, who is president of Sacred Heart College, a high school and junior high school with 1,550 students and 135 staff in the district of Cayo.

More than 9,000 educators and leaders from dioceses around the country and beyond attended this year’s conference, along with 700 vendors. They took part in hundreds of sessions on subjects such as religion, technology, leadership, curriculum development, trauma, finances, prayer and STREAM, the acronym for science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math. There are 1.8 million students enrolled Catholic schools across the country, according to the National Catholic Education Association.

Carballo said she is taking home information about both marketing Catholic schools and effectively using digital media in the classroom.

“I attended sessions that showed us how to retain our students and, most important, how to market our Catholic institutions and continue to uphold the institutional excellence,” she said.

The 25-year veteran educator said the convention liturgies were spiritually enriching.

Cardinal Cupich celebrated the opening Mass April 23 with a choir of students from local Catholic schools. Bishop Gerald Kicanas, the NCEA’s board chairman, celebrated Mass April 24 and Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Robert Casey celebrated the closing Mass.

Jeanine Ranzen, a teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace School in Madison, Wisconsin, said this year’s convention was one of the best she attended.

“It’s been very uplifting being here and being surrounded by 9,000 people who are on the same mission,” she said.

Ranzen, who grew up in St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, was also uplifted by seeing the many young teachers in attendance.

“The young teachers have a lot of passion for what they are doing. We want to have good teachers to continue the mission,” she said.

Next year’s conference will take place in Baltimore April 14-16.



  • catholic education
  • ncea

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