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Superintendent, priest attend NCEA convention

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

Thousands of representatives of Catholic education from across the United States gathered in Pittsburg, Pa., April 22-24 for the annual National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) convention.

Among those at the convention were Dan Ryan, Ed.D., superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux City and Father Craig Collison, pastor at Sacred Heart in Sioux City.

The convention’s 6,000 participants were hosted by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in partnership with the NCEA, Catholic Library Association and the National Association of Parish and Catechetical Directors at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The first day began with Mass for all of the convention attendees.

“I encourage the administrators to go every two to three years,” said Ryan. “There are some very practical things that come out of it, but I think it’s pretty impressive to participate in a liturgy with people from across the country who serve the exact same mission. That is pretty powerful.”

Father Collison said he is thrilled to have this opportunity every year. He has been attending NCEA conventions for the past 14 years and about five other times before that. He went to his first NCEA convention in St. Louis when he was a teacher at Gehlen Catholic in Le Mars back in the last half of the 1980s.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said the priest. “I found for anyone who was committed to Catholic schools, this was a place you could go and worship, learn and be totally immersed in everything about Catholic schools with 7 to 10,000 other people that are committed to the same thing as you are.”


The rest of the convention, there was time to attend four breakout sessions per day, explained Ryan.

“What is really beneficial is that they are always given by other Catholic educators,” he said. “You get a lot of pragmatic things you can use. I think that is what people really enjoy. It goes from academics to Catholic identity and also things people don’t think about as much – enrollment management, financial planning, long-range planning and boards.”

One of the sessions Ryan attended was on enrollment management strategies that the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., was doing.

“It was really good,” he said. “It has a lot of things that were really practical from my point of view as well.”
Father Collison said this year at the convention he was able to speak with members of award winning Boards of Education from all parts of the country.

“In doing so I gained confidence in what we have been working to implement with Dr. Ryan and Sharon Dentlinger, our assistant superintendent of schools – committee driven boards with the support of long-range strategic planning,” said the priest.

He was also able to network with other priests from all over the country “who support Catholic schools and lead them pastorally. I felt very blessed to know that I have many terrific brother priests in the Diocese of Sioux City who have dedicated time, talent and treasure to the best education we can give our children.”

“It is a lot of networking and getting to know people who have been successful,” said Ryan. “It’s a lot easier to do that now than even 10 years ago because you can put a lot of things on Facebook and Twitter where people are keeping tabs of each other. It is very possible to collaborate with someone from a different part of the country.”

NCEA award

Father Collison received the 2014 O’Neil D’Amour Award from the NCEA for his national contribution to Catholic education.

The O’Neil D’Amour Award is presented each year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution of statewide, regional, national or international significance to boards of Catholic education. Father Collison was recognized with this honor during a ceremony at the NCEA annual convention.

Father Collison has served as a registrar, chief administrator and president at various secondary schools in the Diocese of Sioux City and has served for 11 years as a representative of Sioux City pastors. He served for nine years as the vice chair on the Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools board of education.

“To receive the O'Neil D'Amour Award is most humbling. It is a national honor,” said Father Collison. “My hope is that through this award, those whom I have the privilege of working with, and networking with throughout the country find out about the good things happening in Catholic schools here in the Diocese of Sioux City.”

He added this gives him the opportunity to let others know “of the quality of our schools and the work being done to improve our Catholic School Boards of Education and let them know of the leadership of our teachers and educators, the support of our priests, our bishop and the commitment of our parents.”


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