Xaverian principal Deacon Kevin McCormack will take over July 1
BAY RIDGE — Deacon Kevin McCormack, the principal of Xaverian high school in Bay Ridge, has been appointed superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn by Bishop Robert Brennan, the diocese announced on Thursday, May 5.
McCormack, whose appointment becomes effective July 1, will succeed Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, who is retiring after serving as superintendent for 19 years.
“The schools and academies of the Diocese of Brooklyn have been blessed by the many years of steady, strong, and devoted leadership of our Superintendent Dr. Thomas Chadzutko,” Bishop Brennan said. “He truly has championed the growth of our schools and academies through teacher professional development, technology, and curriculum enhancements. Today we see the success of Catholic schools throughout Brooklyn and Queens because of his work. I am confident Deacon Kevin McCormack will expand on that success, given his exemplary work leading Xaverian and his clear commitment to Catholic Identity.”
“I am grateful that Bishop Brennan has placed his trust in me to build upon the formative work of Dr. Chadzutko and continue the blessed tradition of excellence in Catholic education,” said McCormack, who helped shepherd Xaverian’s transition to a co-ed institution in 2016.
In an interview with The Tablet, Deacon McCormack, 61, outlined his priorities — chief among them strengthening students’ Catholic identity.
“I want to renew our understanding of the mission of Catholic schools,” he said. “Every school teaches math, science, history, and English. Catholic schools do something different. We bring a Catholic identity to a world that so desperately needs it.”
Schools in the diocese saw a 2.4% increase in enrollment between the 2021 and 2022 school years and Deacon McCormack said he will work to keep that trend moving up.
There are 70 Catholic elementary academies and schools in the diocese, as well as 15 Catholic high schools. The current enrollment is 30,894 students — 19,613 in elementary students and 11,281 in high schools.
Another priority will be to recruit and maintain teachers.
“The biggest crisis we have, I think, is being able to sustain the people that we need. We need to invest financially in our faculties and our administrators and our staff,” he said.
Keeping up with the latest advances in technology is also at the top of his agenda. “Technology is an essential part of what we do. We need to keep pushing the envelope on technology,” he said.
However, he vowed to proceed carefully. “We have some great things that are being done here. We don’t need a complete overhaul by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
Deacon McCormack spent 37 years at Xaverian, first as a teacher of English and religion before he was appointed principal 15 years ago. During his tenure, the formerly all-boys school went co-ed, welcoming girls in September 2016.
There were other notable gains during his years there. In 2010, Xaverian became one of the first schools in the country to introduce iPads into the classroom.
“We also worked with outside communities finding new ways for funding and making sure that we have access to all the things that are rightfully ours by state mandate,” he explained.
Deacon McCormack was the co-host, with Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, of the program Religion on the Line on WABC Radio from 2006 to 2018.
As he gets ready for his new job, Deacon McCormack looks with admiration at his predecessor.
“In Tom Chadzutko, you’re talking about a guy who is dedicated. I don’t think he sleeps! I’ve never had a situation where I reached out to Tom, no matter what time of day, where he hasn’t helped me,” he recalled.
Chadzutko said he was grateful for the chance to serve.
“I have been blessed with pastors, principals, and staff that share the faith and the mission of Catholic education,” he said. “The greatest joy is the knowledge that our work has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of students over the past three decades.”
Deacon McCormack was born in the Fordham section of the Bronx. His dad Joe was a transit worker. His mother Betty was a homemaker. McCormack attended Our Lady of Mercy School. “We lived in a Catholic community. Your whole world was the church,” he recalled.
The family moved to Valley Stream, New York, and Kevin transferred to Blessed Sacrament School.
For a time, he thought God was calling him to the priesthood. He entered the St. Pius X Prep Seminary Seminary and later attended Cathedral College and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. But he left Immaculate Conception in his pastoral year.
McCormack had met Regina Procida, a novice preparing to take her vows to join the Sisters of St. Joseph. “We took classes together and we became friends. And then we were in a wedding together and things started to move in a different direction,” he recalled.
They were married in 1987 and have four children.
Years later, McCormack heard God’s call again — this time to be a deacon. He was ordained a deacon of the Diocese of Rockville Centre by Bishop William Murphy on May 18, 2002.
Deacon McCormack holds a Master of Arts in Theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Fordham University.
Msgr. David Cassato, vicar for Catholic schools, said Deacon McCormack enjoys an advantage coming into his new job because of his decades of experience.
“He can hit the ground running on Day One,” he said. “He knows the diocese so well. He’s done great things at Xaverian. He’s a man of vision and a man with a lot of energy.”
Xaverian announced that Daniel Sharib, Xaverian Class of ’96, will be the new principal effective July 1. Sharib, who has been the assistant principal of academics since 2016, will serve as the school’s 10th principal.
“It is an honor and privilege to be able to serve as the principal of a community and family that have meant so much to me personally for nearly 30 years as a student, teacher, and administrator,” Sharib said in a statement.