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175th anniversary Education Committee plans yearlong projects

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A significant goal of most people who work in the field of education is to foster a lifelong love for learning. When it comes to Catholic education, both in our schools and in parish faith formation programs, a group of educators from across the diocese have discovered the joy of bringing to life the history, traditions and Catholic culture of Western New York for the young. This group of dedicated people spent several months as the 175th Anniversary Catholic Education Committee developing and curating resources to educate students on all levels about the rich heritage of our local church in the Diocese of Buffalo. Members of the Committee include Dr. Timothy Uhl, Lisa Benzer, Sister M. Joanne Suranni, CSSF, Becky Hoag, Peg Barkley, Joan Mullin and Joseph Dzielski.

Sister M. Joanne Suranni, CSSF, (second from left) explains her plan for “Flat Timon” to the education committee for the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Buffalo. Other committee members include Lisa Benzer, Joe Dezielski, Becky Hoag, Peg Barkley and Dr. Tim Uhl. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

According to Uhl, superintendent for Catholic Education for the Diocese of Buffalo, it was a joy to work with people from across the diocese on this important project. Along with Uhl and Benzer, director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Buffalo, the committee was comprised of faith formation directors, teachers and retired teachers who have worked with all levels of students. Sister Joanne, director of Faith Formation at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Niagara Falls served as the chairperson for the group.

In celebration of the 175th anniversary, the committee established a theme for each month with a learning objective. They then moved on to develop prayer services, lesson plans, videos, field trip ideas, craft ideas, and family activities to run September through April of the 2022-2023 school year.

In concert with the Communications office, the group tied their work together by creating an image of “Flat Timon,” a caricature of the first bishop of Buffalo, John Timon. It is hoped that children and youth will take Flat Timon with them to the sacred sites they visit during the anniversary year, snap a selfie with him, and place it on social media.

According to committee member Hoag, director of faith formation at St. Mary Parish in Lancaster, the anniversary lessons and activities will serve as a bridge between both Catholic schools and the parish faith formation programs. Benzer stated that the 175th anniversary education plans for children provide a wonderful opportunity to share a common faith formation curriculum. Committee member Dzielski, teacher and assistant principal from Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls, believes that opportunities abound to help children make connections between faith and their daily lives.

Through the 175th anniversary education plan, students across the Diocese of Buffalo will have opportunities to explore the positive impact that the Church has had on the region. Barkley observed that from the inception of the diocese, the faith was spread through the itinerancy of the earliest Catholics in Western New York. As we travel the Road to Renewal, it seems that we are being once again called to be itinerant for the growth and strengthening of our faith.  

On Aug. 8, the education plan will officially be launched. It can be found at https://www.buffalodiocese.org/175th/. Materials will be added regularly to assist teachers, catechists, principals, pastors, and most importantly, families in nurturing the faith. Check back often for new materials and use them to make some wonderful discoveries as you cultivate lifelong learning in the faith.  

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