March 21, 2008

NCEA Convention

‘At the Crossroads: Where Challenge Meets Opportunity’

Students and faculty at St. Simon the Apostle School in Indianapolis are all smiles after being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005. Read about the archdiocese’s outstanding track record in education on page 2. (Submitted photo)

Students and faculty at St. Simon the Apostle School in Indianapolis are all smiles after being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005. Read about the archdiocese’s outstanding track record in education on page 2. (Submitted photo)

Criterion staff report

After a year’s worth of hard work and preparation, the excitement builds as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis welcomes more than 8,000 delegates to the 2008 National Catholic Educational Association Convention, Exposition and National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors Convocation on March 25-27.

It’s the first time in the 105-year history of the association that the convention will be held in Indianapolis.

One of the city’s nicknames—“the Crossroads of America”—serves as the heart of the theme for the convention: “At the Crossroads: Where Challenge Meets Opportunity.”

“We really believe that the work of our catechists, teachers and administrators makes a difference in the lives of children, parents, our world and the Church,” says Kathy Mears, an associate director of schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and a member of the convention’s organizing committee.

“That work, however, can be challenging,” she continued. “Our convention is going to address those challenges that are facing Catholic education because we believe that our faith-filled educational system is definitely part of the answer to issues that are facing our country and the world.”

The convention is also committed to a “green” theme, recognizing the integrity of the Earth. Recycling and other “green” practices will be emphasized at the convention.

“This is one of the great challenges facing our Church and the world, and we want our teachers to understand and learn different ways to help make our students more environmentally aware,” Mears says. “As Catholics, we want to make sure that we are leading the way in modeling how to be good stewards of the Earth.”

More than 400 workshops and 500 educational exhibits will be available at the convention, which will be held at the Indiana Convention Center. The convention is open to anyone who works or is interested in Catholic education, including teachers, clergy, administrators, parents and students.

On March 25, Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, is scheduled to concelebrate the opening Mass with the Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and chairman of the NCEA board of directors.

On March 26, the Most Rev. Blasé Cupich, bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, will deliver the opening keynote address.

On March 27, a keynote address will be delivered by Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Attracting the NCEA annual convention to Indianapolis is important and exciting, said Bob Desautels, a senior manager of convention services for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association.

“This is a very prestigious convention,” Desautels said. “You can’t overstate the importance of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and specifically the Office of Catholic Education, in successfully conducting this convention.”

Many local events are planned for convention week co-sponsored by the archdiocese and various partners.

On March 24, up to 50 delegates may travel to St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, the home of St. Theodora Guérin, Indiana’s first saint, who was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Tours of historic St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Indianapolis will also be available.

On March 25, a reception will be held for 500 guests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sponsored by Catapult Learning, and a Sacred Sounds Concert will be held at St. John the Evangelist Church, featuring the musical talents of archdiocesan students.

Health Day will be held on March 26. Delegates will be able to “travel” through a model heart and learn how to be more heart-healthy courtesy of St. Vincent and St. Francis hospitals of Indianapolis. Free health screenings will be offered, and participants will also be invited to donate blood on site for the Indiana Blood Center.

March 26 will also feature a tour of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis for 40 delegates, and a free “Teachers’ Night Out” at the Marriott Hotel Ballroom with music and dancing sponsored by QSP/Reader’s Digest.

College Day is March 27 and features a special “Catechists’ Track.” College students and volunteer parish religious educators may attend all sessions, including special offerings for catechists for only $25 (registered in advance). A reception for 300 will be held that evening at the Indianapolis Museum of Art sponsored by 11 colleges and universities in the region.

On March 28, a special symposium on urban education models will be held at the Convention Center. Details for all local events can be found at or at the local hospitality booth at the convention.

The NCEA is the largest private, professional education association in the world, representing more than 200,000 educators serving 7.6 million students at all levels of Catholic education—pre-school through college.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis reflects the NCEA’s commitment to faith-filled education. The archdiocese has 151 parishes serving more than 230,000 Catholics. Its 60 elementary and 11 high schools educate more than 23,000 students. Another 17,000 students are in parish religious education programs in 39 counties of southern and central Indiana.

Catholic schools in the archdiocese have also earned 31 national Blue Ribbon awards from the U.S. Department of Education, including 22 in the past five years, more than any other diocese. †

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