My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
On the fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the first day of Catholic Schools Week, St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians and us about our anxieties, exhorting all the people to focus on God’s goodness instead of any subtleties which may distract us from holy living. As Psalm 95 proclaims, we kneel before the Lord who made us. “For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.”
We recognize Catholic Schools Week as a time to praise God for the gift of our parents, guardians, students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and administrators who glorify God by their participation in the ministry of education; the ministry of enkindling a deeper faith in one another. This Catholic Schools Week also marks an opportunity for me to personally thank Mr. Henry Fortier, our superintendent of Catholic Schools, for leading those he serves to draw near to God.
During the Advent season, Mr. Fortier spoke with me and Ms. Theresa Simon, chief operating officer/chancellor of the Diocese of Orlando, about resigning his post as superintendent of Catholic Schools on Aug. 2. Ms. Simon and I are grateful to Mr. Fortier for his discussion and giving us the lead time needed to search for another superintendent.Mr. Fortier came to the Diocese of Orlando in 2011 with a charge to enkindle a deeper faith within the heart of the students who attended our Catholic schools, but also within the heart of the community of faith from the youngest to the oldest. He helped those whom he encountered to acknowledge God’s call and strive to live in His perfection, offering the excellence of His love to one another.
Under his faith-filled leadership, God is the core instructor. Catholic identity in our schools is strong and enrollment has increased. Mr. Fortier assured the opportunity to participate in the celebration of Mass at every school for as we receivethe Eucharist, we seek to be God’s goodness on this earth, living to benefit our brothers and sisters, that with them and for them we may build an earthly city, pleasing to God. Mr. Fortier guided faculty and staff to build a strong, positive, faith-filled culture focused on the uniqueness of every child created in God’s image. He created a team to standardize school operations and academics and to assure a safe environment born out of God’s love.
Mr. Fortier’s perseverance and bond with other leaders advanced the partnership of the Diocesan Mission Office with the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana to expand and certify our mission schools, build a high school residence, and establish leadership mission trips. High school students from our mission schools are now able to attend the Diocese of Orlando Catholic high schools, returning home with a spirit of ministry to serve God’s people.During this Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, please offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Mr. Henry Fortier who helped to free us of anxieties as he rightly placed the focus of Catholic education on God. Pray for the search for a superintendent upon which we embark. Pray for Mr. Fortier as he continues to serve God by his ongoing leadership in education and spiritual development. Know of my continued prayers for each one of you as we come to know, love, and serve God all the days of our life.