Greetings from new diocesan Catholic schools superintendent
I am so very happy to introduce myself. My name is Vincent de Paul Schmidt, and I am honored to have been named the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Trenton by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.
My wife, Dana, and our three sons are very happy to have moved to New Jersey. My family has heard there is much to do here, and once the state fully reopens after COVID-19, we will be excited to experience all the Garden State has to offer. From the boardwalks on the beach to farmers’ markets in our community, this seems to be a perfect place to live and raise our family.
Friends and colleagues have asked me many times over the past months, “What are you going to change in Trenton?” In reality, my job is not to change anything, but continue to build on the fantastic efforts of former superintendent JoAnn Tier and the team in the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools.
Over the last few months, I have come to realize that in the Diocese of Trenton, we have a wide variety of students – from Catholics and non-Catholics, to those of all ethnicities, special needs and varying economic status. All will continue to be embraced for the gifts they bring and the good works they will be challenged to bring forth daily.
Having said that, over the course of this school year, you will hear me speak of Pope Francis, a Jesuit, who implored all Catholics to embrace the Ignatian ideal of becoming “men and women for others.” This year, my prayer is for all in the Catholic school community of Trenton to be the embodiment of that ideal. Specifically, we will ask our faculty, students and families to concentrate on the notion of service to all in our community and each other.
What better time than in the midst, or hopefully on the cusp, of coming out of a pandemic than to realize the need to help others meet their daily needs? The needs might be spiritual. The needs might be educational. The needs might be social. The call is now; the call is loud. I am asking all in the educational community to be ready to step up and help whenever/wherever you see the need.
To achieve a Catholic education that serves all requires that we teach the faith, that we live Gospel values. Pope Francis focuses on the faith and service. Our parents – you reading this letter – are the principal educators of our children in this faith. Our educational staff work hard every day to support this mission. What better evidence of lived Gospel values than these students here, with their parents, giving of their gifts in service to others?
The Catholic schools in this Diocese are poised to take off into unprecedented areas of academic growth and rigor along with an increased focus on Catholic identity. Our schools have committed teams that are dedicated to leading all students to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, strong academic achievement, personal growth in the areas of social awareness and social responsibility, and a sense of self-reliance steeped in a set of values that can only come from a mission-driven, faith-filled community such as that found in our programs.
Our students are just starting the journey into young adulthood within their faith, and our students are role models that are proof positive of what can be achieved by putting one’s self second. Let us form men and women for others – just as Jesus did throughout his ministry, and what Pope Francis calls us to EVERY DAY.
Thank you for accepting this challenge, and thanks for your constant support of our Catholic schools.