Photos by Peter G. Sánchez
Robert T. Healey speaks with students at St. Mary School in East Vineland on Jan. 29. The school is a member of Catholic School Development Program (CSDP), that Healey founded in 2004.
Robert T. Healey, who has devoted a considerable amount of his own time and money to the cause of Catholic education, visited St. Mary Elementary School in East Vineland Jan. 29 to help the students and staff celebrate Catholic Schools Week.
Observed Jan. 27-Feb. 2, the theme of Catholic Schools Week this year is Catholic Schools Raise the Standards, and Healey has made it a personal goal to use what he learned as a businessman and attorney to help local Catholic schools keep their standards high.
Healey founded the Catholic School Development Program (CSDP) in 2004 to empower schools in the areas of governance, enrollment management and development. In the Camden Diocese, CSDP works with five schools in Camden City, as part of the Catholic Partnership Schools, and 15 other schools in the Diocese of Camden. The organization also works with four schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and six schools in the Diocese of Allentown.
At St. Mary, Healey and his daughter, Christine L. Healey, executive director of International Education Foundation, met with principal Steve Hogan; Father Peter Saporito, pastor of St. Padre Pio Parish; advancement director Carol Kirchman; Mark D’Onofrio, school board chair; Patty Barse, PTA president; and Tarah Sawyer, media specialist.
St. Mary School, founded in 1960, currently educates 275 students in grades PreK3-8, a substantial increase over last year’s enrollment of 246.
With a PowerPoint presentation, St. Mary’s updated Healey on the school’s progress and elaborated on the school’s mission, “Putting Minds to Work, Aligning Hears With God, and Fostering Lives of Service.”
Following the formal presentation, Healey visited a few classrooms and clearly enjoyed chatting with the children and giving them high fives.
The school was hosting Grandparents Bingo, an annual Catholic Schools Week tradition. Other programs during the week included a laser light show, faculty and staff appreciation day, and parent classroom visitation. On Feb. 10 and 11, the school is hosting an open house for prospective students and their parents.
“Robert Healey’s visit was “exhilarating and humbling,” said Hogan. “He affirmed and encouraged us in our work,” Hogan said, and in visiting students, “saw the fruits of the seeds that were planted.”
“Catholic schools are important to him as evangelizing agents,” Hogan said. “The Catholic School Development Program has truly made a difference in St. Mary’s and has created a culture of sustainability.”