1,400 Educators Celebrate a New School Year with Cardinal DiNardo

August 11, 2017

The 2017 Sally Landram Excellence in Education Award was presented to Anita Slanina, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Hitchcock. Slanina, second from left, is seen here with (left) Debra Haney, interim superintendent of Catholic Schools; Cathy Stephen, assistant superintendent of Excellence; Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston; and Charles Landram husband and founder of Sally Landram award. Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON - On Friday, August 11, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo celebrated the beginning of a new school year with more than 1,400 teachers and school administrators from the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  The Mass, held at 9:30 a.m. at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 St. Joseph Pkwy., Houston, was followed by an awards ceremony.

“The Opening Schools Mass is an opportunity for our Catholic schools to come together and begin the year with a focus on Christ and our mission, which is to transform the world by forming disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Debra Haney, Interim Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese.  “Each year, we look forward to the words of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo’s motivational homily as well as the acknowledgment of the numerous years of service that has been so selflessly shared by our principals and teachers.

“Let the identity of Jesus Christ be our strength and be our joy,” said Cardinal DiNardo in his homily. “There's lots of education in Catholic schools: the social sciences, physical education, the beauties of English and mathematics, and the religious thread that indeed ties them together.”

PHOTOS: Thousands gather to start new school year off in faith

He also reflected on the life of St. Clare of Assis, whose feast day is Aug. 11, sharing her story of clarity in truth of Jesus Christ with the education community.

“Sisters and brothers from all our Catholic schools, thank you for your witness, and thank you for your teaching. Parents, thank you for your witness to your children,” he said. “Students we are praying for you, we think the best of you. Everything that happens is because of you and Jesus.”

Haney, who welcomed the community before presenting the awards, said while the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese range widely – some have 45 students, while others have 700 – the diversity of the Archdiocese thrives within the 59 Catholic schools: at least 30 languages are spoken in the homes of Catholic school students, coming from nearly every continent in the world.

“During this time together, we see the bigger picture for Catholic education in our Archdiocese and are able to rededicate ourselves to that purpose...This year, we are focusing on being ‘called’ to our vocation, and this opportunity for worship and collegiality with others who have been called to the same vocation is a unique and uplifting experience,” Haney added.  

After the Mass, Cardinal DiNardo and Ms. Haney presented awards to 115 educators who are celebrating milestone years of service in Catholic education. The number of years of service range from 5 to 45 years.

The celebration closed with the presentation of the Sally Landram Excellence in Education Award to a Catholic school educator who exemplifies excellence and professional dedication

The 2017 Sally Landram Excellence in Education Award was presented to Anita Slanina, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Hitchcock. The award is made possible by the generosity of the John W. and Alida Considine Foundation. 

Teachers and staff began their back-to-school in-service the first week in August; most students start classes the second or third week of August.


About the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Catholic Schools
The Archdiocese has the largest private school system in Texas and welcomes students of all faiths. There are currently 59 schools throughout the 10 counties of the Archdiocese with more than 19,500 students enrolled. The schools serve students PreK-3 through 12th grade. All schools offer need- based tuition assistance for students. 
The Archdiocese of Galveston- Houston serves 1.7 million Catholics in 10 counties. It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 5th largest in the United States.