Seven teachers from the Catholic school system in the mountain area of the sister Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, graduated Oct. 19 as state-licensed teachers from Universidad Urania Montás. Their accomplishments fulfilled a lifelong goal and continued a journey of self-determination and hard work.
Six of the seven teachers who graduated from the Universidad Urania Montás, San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, stand with their new degrees. Five of them are presently teachers in the Diocese of Orlando sponsored Catholic School, ‘La Red de Escuelas Nuestra Senora de Las Lomas, in the mountains of the Dominican Republic.
The seven teachers who serve at the Nuestra Señora de las Lomas Catholic School are: Altagracia De Los Delgado; Baleria Delgado Delgado; Candida Delgado Delgado; Emiliana Severina Delgado Delgado; Santica Aybar Delgado; Milqueya Delgado Matias; and Engracia Aracelis Beltre. Their journey began nine years ago in a wooden, one-room classroom in La Cucarita. In 2003, they were among 40 residents of the remote mountain village that began to read and write for the first time in their lives.
“Who would ever have imagined that this would be possible in such a short space of time?” asked Ursuline Sister Bernadette Mackay, director of the mission for the Diocese of Orlando.
Sister Mackay said the teachers took classes from 5-9 p.m. every day of the week for four years, then attended university classes on the weekends for five years. They return as teachers to the same school in which they were students.
“The struggle and sacrifice of those years are now transformed into joy and celebration as each stepped onto the stage to receive her certificate,” Sister Mackay said. “Who would have believed this possible back then, in the little red and blue classroom on the mountaintop?”
Sister Mackay and hundreds of volunteers have spent countless hours serving the people in the mountains of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana. The volunteers themselves have educated a number of students and adults, teaching them how to read and write; how to count and speak English; and more about their Catholic faith.
Now, these new teachers will help transform the lives of current and future students.
“Their achievement is a story to be proclaimed from the mountaintops,” Sister Mackay said. “Their actions call attention to the values of dedication, academic excellence and unconditional love – values that identify the followers of Jesus and witness to the presence of the kingdom of God alive in our world. Let us celebrate the presence of the Spirit alive in the hearts of so many as we shout with joy and thanksgiving.”
Following the graduation ceremony, Father Fred Ruse, pastoral minister to the people of the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, said the teachers made many people proud.
“Our school has a fine group of professional teachers; they are beaming ear to ear with graduating certificates in hand,” Father Ruse said. “They just looked stunning. What a proud day for them, for our school and for our Diocese.”