Superintendent To Prioritize Teacher Salaries, Catholic Identity

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The start of the school year also marks a new beginning for the Diocese of Brooklyn’s superintendent, who started his job on July 1 and is now overseeing the opening of classes.

Deacon Kevin McCormack, the former principal of Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, is now the person overseeing the diocese’s 70 Catholic academies. Prior to becoming superintendent, he spent 37 years at Xaverian, first as a teacher of English and religion, then as principal.

In interviews with The Tablet and Currents News on Aug. 29, he said he plans to visit two schools a day during the first two weeks of the fall term.

As the school year begins, the diocese isn’t experiencing a teacher shortage, unlike many regions across the country.

But that doesn’t mean Deacon McCormack is satisfied — particularly when it comes to teachers’ paychecks.

“Our salaries are not where they need to be, and that has to be a priority as well — to bring that up to a reasonable place,” he said. “We have to make sure that we find a way for the academies to be able to raise those salaries, and we’re gonna have to help many of them.”

“The way we help with tuition, we’re going to have to find a way to continue that for the faculty,” he added.

Deacon McCormack is coming into the job at a time when student enrollment is on the rise in many schools. He is eager to keep that momentum going.

The new superintendent said the key to increasing enrollment is to work on it at the grassroots level. “It works because you have a good principal who works with a really good pastor and a board chair, and the three of them come together with a common vision and a common ability to lead. And that’s what we want to continue,” he explained.

Another of Deacon McCormack’s priorities is to strengthen students’ Catholic identity.

“I think identity is the experience of going to Mass, saying the prayers, the May Crowning [the decorating of a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a garland of flowers in May] — all of these things where we can have the Catholic experience together,” he said.

Toward that goal, he said he will encourage schools to say the Angelus Prayer every day. “It’s a very simple prayer, an ancient prayer, and one that we use very successfully. I’d like to see that promoted,” he explained.

Schools can also reinforce Catholic identity in the way they treat students, he said.

“It’s not a matter of just feeling good. But it’s a matter of encouraging them to see what they may not see themselves as we invite them to be something much greater,” he said.

Deacon McCormack is also keeping a watchful eye on developments involving migrants being bused into New York City from Texas after they have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Under orders from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, hundreds of migrants have been placed in buses and transported to New York.

While most of the migrants have been brought to Manhattan, the Diocese of Brooklyn is willing to educate the children of those who settle in Brooklyn and Queens, if necessary, he said. The Diocese of Brooklyn is known as the Diocese of Immigrants. It is home to Catholics from 167 countries, and Masses are said in dozens of languages.

“When someone comes to us, especially the people who have been brought here, for whatever reasons they were, we will take care of them directly,” he said. “We have always reached out to people from different cultures.”


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