A pastor’s school commitment is invaluable

A pastor’s school commitment is invaluable
Father Dave Grover and Sister Jerilyn Einstein

Father Dave Grover and Sister Jerilyn Einstein

If Sister Jerilyn Einstein’s height were measured in smiles and attitude, she’d probably top six feet. In traditional Franciscan habit and sensible sandals, she hops back and forth between the two campuses at Guardian Angels Regional School (GARS) in Southwest Gloucester County, cheerfully tending to the academic and spiritual needs of the school’s Pre-K to eighth graders. Sister Jerilyn is quick to acknowledge the faculty and staff members who help lighten her load as principal at GARS. Father Dave Grover is at the top of her list.

“I truly believe that our Lord has played a huge role in putting us together to share the mission of Guardian Angels. We are guided by the Holy Spirit in [making] decisions,” said Sister Jerilyn. She and Father Grover have been a team since 2003.

“We have great respect for each other and our roles and skills,” said Father Grover. He credits Sister Jerilyn for her efforts to engage not only school families, but the broader parish community at Saint Clare of Assisi, where he is pastor.

Sister Jerilyn said she and Father Grover speak openly about every school-related issue. “There’s no power struggle,” she said, expressing gratitude for the ability to ‘agree to disagree,’ work through challenges, and discern answers together. Through this honest process, they are able to present an authentic, united front.

It helps that Father Grover is a vocal supporter of Catholic schools.

“I wouldn’t have gotten an education without Catholic schools,” he said, acknowledging how his parents sacrificed to send 11 children to Catholic school. As a pastor, he is committed to making that choice possible for other families, even though it adds to his financial, administrative and logistical responsibilities.

Father Joseph Wallace agrees. “I spent my entire educational career in Catholic school,” he said. “I believe in Catholic education.”

President of Wildwood Catholic High School and pastor at Notre Dame de la Mer Parish, Father Wallace’s responsibilities include pastoral leadership at Cape Trinity Regional School. Cape Trinity and Wildwood Catholic are housed together — a unique set-up in Wildwood.

“It helps to have two very competent, exceptional principals,” said Father Wallace. “And we’re all working toward the same goals.”

Cape Trinity principal Sister Sheila Murphy values the three-way relationship. “It’s important that we can be honest and listened to, even if we don’t [always] agree,” she said.

“It’s all about respect and teamwork,” added Mary Kane, academic dean at Wildwood Catholic.

The trio agrees about the importance of good communication. They meet regularly to discuss common issues and keep school and parish communities informed. Like their counterparts at Guardian Angels, the Wildwood team relishes the candor that enables them to speak up, share different perspectives, and always find a solution grounded in respect.

If the Guardian Angels and Cape Trinity/Wildwood Catholic leadership teams wrote the book on effective partnerships, their chapter titles might be: Commitment to Catholic Schools, Shared Mission and Goals, Trust, Respect, and Open, Honest Communication. Anyone who has observed their interaction might suggest another chapter: A Great Sense of Humor.

For more information about Catholic schools in South Jersey visit www.camdendiocese.org/schools (856-583-6103).

Categories: Catholic School News

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