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Diocese of Rockville Centre

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, February 22, 2005 - The newly created Diocesan Elementary School Education Commission hit the ground running after holding its first meeting here on February 10, 2005. Following an opening prayer and introduction from the Most Reverend William Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Sister Joanne Callahan, O.S.U., superintendent of schools, provided members with an overview of elementary schools in the diocese. Commission Chair Joseph Geoghan then set the overall strategic direction of the commission.

“We owe it to the young people of today and future generations to ensure the future viability of this great gift of Catholic education,” said Bishop Murphy. “Catholic education in the 21st century is a more complicated challenge than in previous generations. When it comes to ideas and recommendations, nothing is off the table,” he added.

The commission will replace the regional school planning boards currently in existence, oversee implementation of the recommendations of the Catholic Elementary School Study and establish standing committees based on the recommendations of the Study. Five committees were formed during the meeting: School Intervention, Finance, Development, Marketing and Educational Programs.

Creation of the commission was one of the major recommendations made to Bishop Murphy from the Catholic Elementary School Study Committee he formed back in January 2004. The committee was charged with providing actionable recommendations to the bishop after studying enrollment trends in Catholic schools; looking at demographic and school-age data for Long Island; studying finances of the schools and the percentage of subsidy from parishes; designing and implementing surveys to ascertain commitment of pastors and parents for continuing Catholic schools; investigating the level of interest in and cost of regional middle schools; review the current use of the annual grant the diocese makes; recommendations for the future; discovering alternative funding sources, and a diocesan-wide education endowment.

“We are in service to all students and parents. We have an excellent network of schools and our efforts should be directed to increasing enrollment and stabilizing costs,” said Mr. Geoghan.

Comprised of clergy, consecrated women and the laity, the 13-member body consists of Catholic school educators, parents and professionals from finance, law and public relations. The commission includes:
  * Gerald M. Cattaro, Ed.D., is the director of the Center of Non-Public Education and Catholic Leadership and an associate professor of education at Fordham University.
Sister Angela Gannon, C.S.J., served as the associate superintendent for religious education and Christian formation for the Diocese of Brooklyn and is currently director of the Pastoral Institute in Douglaston.
  * Joseph Geoghan, Chair. Mr. Geoghan has chaired or participated in several task forces and commissions on Catholic elementary school education since 1975 for the Diocese of Brooklyn, including six years on that diocese’s Education Commission. He was vice president and general counsel and a member of the board of directors of Union Carbide Corporation when he retired in 1998.
  * Maureen Smith Hannan has 18 years of experience in finance at The Seagram Company, LTD, which included work in investor relations, strategic planning and advising senior management on complex financial transactions.
  * Eileen T. Kilbride, Ed.D., has been involved in Catholic education for 35 years. She will become the principal of St. Joseph’s School in Garden City next September.
  * Sister Patricia Koehler, O.P., is the supervisor of the Professional Development Program for Nassau BOCES and an instructor on the adjunct faculty of Molloy College.
  * Walter D. Lace is the principal of St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School and has been with the school for the past 35 years.
  * Reverend Brian McNamara is the pastor of the Church of Saints Philip and James in St. James.
  * Kevin Ryan is the president and chief executive officer of Ryan & Ryan PR, Inc., a public relations firm based in Farmingdale.
  * Sister Kathryn Schlueter, C.S.J., has been principal of Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional School in Southampton for 17 years.
  * Joseph Sciame is vice president for community relations at St. John’s University, one of the largest Catholic universities in America.
  * Carol Needham Taylor is a practicing attorney and partner in the Williston Park firm of Pasta, Needham and Taylor.
  * George I. Victor is the director of quality control at the public accounting firm of Holtz Rubenstein Reminick, LLP.

Ex Officio Non Voting Members:
  * Sister Joanne Callahan, O.S.U. is the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
  * Joanne O’Brien, Ed.D. is the associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Note to Editors: Contact the Office of Public Information for biographical sketches.

About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.5 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3 million). There are 134 parishes in 119 towns. Last year over 21,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 21,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,622 students in kindergarten, 26,738 in primary or elementary school, 11,979 in secondary school and 9,310 in higher institutions. There are 77 Catholic elementary schools, high schools and colleges/universities in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. These facilities served over 743,000 people last year. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information visit

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Sean P. Dolan
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