MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Students, benefactors and leaders in Catholic education from across West Virginia convened for the 14th annual Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Schools April 27 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, presented five Bishop's Cross awards to deserving educators, including Jesuit father Joseph Hayden and the Aquinas Medal, the highest award a student can receive from the diocese, to 35 students, including Wheeling Jesuit senior Adrienne Greene of Fairmont.
“The annual Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Schools,” said John Yelenic, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese, “is a celebration of the people who live their lives in a Christ-like way, rooted in serving others while giving witness to the message of the Gospel.”
The master of ceremonies was Bill Stewart, head coach of the Mountaineers football team at West Virginia University in Morgantown, the champions of the Fiesta Bowl. Stewart and his wife Karen and their son Blaine are members of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown and Blaine attends St. Francis de Sales Central Catholic School in Morgantown.
The Bishop's Cross is presented to ordinary individuals who, through their lives and works, have demonstrated, in extraordinary ways, their commitment to the mission of Catholic education in West Virginia. Bishop Bransfield presented each recipient with a replica of Bishop Emeritus Bernard W. Schmitt's pectoral cross, representing his role and responsibility as teacher. The following individuals received the Bishop's Cross:
Rev. Joseph Hayden, SJ, has, since 2003, served as the pastor of St. James Parish in Benwood and St. John Parish in McMechen. He also serves as the pastor of SS. James and John School in Benwood, which has seen a significant growth in enrollment in the past few years. In close collaboration with the school principal, he recently oversaw the construction of a new middle school building at SS. James and John School, which will accommodate the growing number of students. From 1981 until 2003, Father Hayden could be found on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University, where he taught courses in the Psychology Department. Father Hayden has given a lifetime of service to Catholic education as a teacher and priest.
Joyce Hill has taught first grade at St. Francis de Sales Central Catholic School in Morgantown for 17 years and has served the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as a teacher for 33 years. She is also actively involved in the parish and her community, serving as a parish catechist and assisting with marriage preparation for young couples. Hill and her husband have opened their home to colleagues, families and former students.
(Rev. Chris Fronk, S.J. is shown here with Adrienne Greene at the Bishop's Cross dinner. She is wearing her Aquinas Medal.)
Alice Riley, who, at 100, died Oct. 27, 2007, worked with St. Patrick School in Weston all her life. She was among the first-graders who welcomed the Sisters of St. Joseph as teachers when the school opened in 1914. A generous benefactor and supporter of St. Patrick School and Catholic education, she was involved in the school for years through the activities of her children. Riley received a degree from Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., founded by the Sisters of Charity, where she later established a scholarship in the field of music therapy. She also established a scholarship at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Msgr. Samuel S. Sacus has served as pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish and School in Beckley since 1996. Under his leadership and in partnership with the principal, Msgr. Sacus has overseen numerous improvements at the school and an increase in enrollment, which prompted the construction of a new middle school addition this school year that includes a state-of-the-art science lab. During his long tenure as a priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Msgr. Sacus has served in various assignments including chaplain at Wheeling Hospital; pastor of St. John Parish in Mullens, St. Peter Parish in Farmington and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Moundsville; and as chaplain in the Air Force. Pope Benedict XVI recently named Msgr. Sacus a Prelate of Honor to His Holiness, entitling him to be addressed as monsignor.
The Sisters of the Visitation of Wheeling have provided education for young women since they founded Wheeling all girls academy, later renamed Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, in 1848 in Wheeling at the invitation of Bishop Richard V. Whelan, the first bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling. For 160 years, the community of sisters was dedicated to providing a quality education to girls and later to boys. Alumnae of Mount de Chantal continue to serve in a myriad of professional fields within and beyond the borders of West Virginia.
Bishop Bransfield also presented the Aquinas Medal to 35 students from Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, including two students from the elementary and secondary programs at Mount de Chantal and a senior from WJU. Aquinas Medal recipients have been chosen on the basis of their activities at school and in the community, which reflect the ideals of Catholic education epitomized by St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic patron saint of students.
(Wheeling Jesuit senior Adrienne Greene, of Fairmont, W.Va., is shown here receiving her Aquinas Award from director of University Relations Maureen Zambito.)
Bishop Bransfield celebrated Mass at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown just prior to the formal program that began with a reception at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown and concluded with a dinner and the presentation of the awards.
Source: diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Website.