Bishop honors our Catholic educators

Says Catholic schools are “treasures of the diocese”


The hard-working teachers and staff members of the Diocese of Jefferson City’s Catholic Schools got a welcome surprise for Catholic Schools Week.

Each of them received a bonus — more specifically, a gesture of gratitude.

“In appreciation of your extraordinary efforts, I am happy to announce that our educators and staff will once again receive bonuses for Catholic Schools Week,” Bishop W. Shawn Mc­Knight stated in a video sent to the diocese’s 37 Catholic grade schools, three Catholic high schools and one Catholic early childhood development center.

He emphasized that this special gift is possible only due to the generous stewardship of our Catholic faithful.

“I hope you recognize this as a sign of how much our entire community values your role in fostering the faith and forming the hearts and minds of our youth as disciples of Christ,” he said.

Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States.

This year, it is being observed Jan. 28 through Feb. 3.

The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2024 is “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.”

Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members.

Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Church, communities and nation.

Bishop McKnight lauded the faith, dedication, resilience and stewardship of Catholic school educators and the positive impact they’re making across the diocese.

“Thanks to your hard work, our future is very bright,” he stated.

He said the teachers and staff of each Catholic school work each day “to build up the community of faith and prepare our young people to grow into virtuous citizens.”

“And in fulfilling their important ministry, they model our faith and traditions for the next generation,” the bishop stated.

“Above and beyond”

Kara Higgins, principal of St. Andrew School in Tipton, said the teachers and staff, while not expecting a bonus, truly appreciate this gesture of gratitude.

“This shows their dedication to our Catholic Schools does not go unnoticed,” she said.

She noted that teachers and staff go “above and beyond every day” at St. Andrew School — “and not only for the students, but for each other, as well.”

“They are caring, supportive, and motivate their students to do their best in a faith-filled environment,” she stated.

Amy Schebaum, principal of St. George School in Hermann, pointed out that no one goes into teaching, especially at a Catholic school, for the money and fame.

“It is a calling!” she said. “We are called to Catholic education because we have a love of children and Christ that we want to pass on to our youngest parishioners.”

She said her faculty and staff pour their love and faith into their students, as well as their knowledge of academics.

“I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to my faculty and staff as well as myself for us to be given these generous bonuses,” she said. “It feels amazing to have our work recognized and deemed important work for our parishes.”

Leigh Grant, principal of Immaculate Conception School in Macon, shared some candid statements from members of the I.C. faculty and staff:

“What a wonderful surprise! God is good.”

“Oh my goodness, I just had to buy a new set of tires and this will help out tremendously.”

She noted that a young college student who cleans for the school in the evening thought maybe his bonus was a mistake.

“I taught at the public school and we would have never received something like this,” he told her.

Mrs. Grant said it’s very humbling to receive a bonus, “especially when you are doing something you enjoy!”

“Educators are not always recognized for what they do on a daily basis, which isn’t just teaching,” she stated. “Our mission is to help guide, inspire, love and encourage our young people to be Christ-like and grow in their faith, service and leadership.”

“Christ’s hands and feet”

Erin Vader Ed.D., diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, said Bishop Mc­Knight understands and appreciates the amazing work the teachers and staff perform every day in service to the nearly 7,000 students enrolled in Catholic schools here.

“These wonderful people put our children first, and model Catholic Christian life for them inside the classroom and out,” she said.

“They are truly Christ’s hands and feet in this world and I am so proud to work with them,” she stated. “May God bless them, and all the faithful stewards in our diocese who make these bonuses possible.”

Bishop McKnight referred to Catholic schools as “treasures of the diocese.”

“Our Catholic schools are very special to me, as they spring from the heart of the Church,” he stated.

Moving together in hope, he invited Catholic school educators to continue to serve and teach with the same joy described by St. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (3:16).

A complete list of the Catholic schools in the diocese can be found at: