Catholic School Matters

September 27, 2022

Cloud of Witnesses

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

I have taken solace in this passage from Hebrews since three witnesses to God’s presence in our world have passed away recently. Last week, Rich Clark passed away suddenly. I had finally gotten around to contacting Rich to come onto the podcast and had a great conversation with him on Friday, Sep 2nd. I told him before we started, “These usually go 20-30 minutes but if the Spirit leads us, it might take longer.” Boy, did it ever.

In our one hour conversation, Rich recalled his call to leave his comfy job as principal of St. Ignatius HS and heed the call to start a Cristo Rey school. This call came in the form of a mystical experience of God’s presence he felt in a simple chapel in Peru. He knew he needed to do something, anything, because God was disrupting his life. He helped build the 3rd Cristo Rey school in the network and supported the work of many, many more. Then he left St. Martin de Porres HS to establish the Partnership School foothold in Cleveland. He has helped rebuild an impressive foundation of Catholic education in the inner city.

It’s impossible to measure Rich’s impact. Consider how many lives have been changed by his work—students, of course, but families, parents, spouses, children, not to mention faculty/staff and the wider community. If they could line up to thank Rich, that queue would be miles long. As you’ll hear from the podcast, Rich is also refreshingly humble and funny. It’s a strange work of the Spirit to bring us together so close to his passing.

You can read Rich’s obituary here. Here is a link to the Partnership School’s tribute to him with curated quotes from our podcast and another article here.

Earlier this summer, former colleague Patricia Thenell passed away. Pat was one of a kind. After her husband passed away unexpectedly in the early 1970s, leaving her a widow with 5 young children, Pat went to work at her husband’s former school, Seattle’s Blanchet HS, and taught theology until her retirement a decade ago. She was determined that students would view theology as a serious subject and was proud that her theology grades sometimes determined who the valedictorian was. Pat was also a vocal supporter of women’s athletics, establishing that the young women competing for the school would not be known as the “Lady Braves” but simply the “Braves” like their male counterparts. She inspired and mentored many young women as a faithful Catholic. Pat’s obituary here. An article about her from 2002 describing her love for sports.

I was privileged to get to know Fr. Bob Perilli soon after I moved to Buffalo. We shared a common interest in family systems therapy and creating a more welcoming church. Here’s A piece in the Buffalo News about Bob’s incredible life and passing. Bob, a therapist and Eudist priest, offered to help with our Pastoral Practices committee. Although retired, he was generous with his time and even came to our May principal meeting to discuss some of the thorny issues that principals are facing now. “Identify your non-negotiables,” he offered, “and don’t compromise on those.” He had a direct but warm approach and had made a significant impact on Buffalo. After all, his leadership toward the AIDS community had removed the stigma and brought God’s mercy and love to so many.

We are stronger church from the work of Rich, Pat, and Bob. I was privileged to know all three witnesses to God’s presence. I can't help but think that Lazarus was there at the very moment of their passings to bring them into in heaven immediately.

Previous blogs can be found here. Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Kari Buchinger on Academics

As September comes to a close we are very excited to honor students across our Diocese that best exemplified a welcoming spirit. Please take a moment to submit one student you would like recognized from your school via this google form.

As we move into October we shift our focus to sportsmanship. Our diocesan sports are ramping up and students are faced with endless opportunities to show good sportsmanship on the court, in PE class, and during recess.

We all know when it comes to sports our competitive spirits can get the best of us. Which is why it is imperative that we take time during our busy days to teach students what it means to be a good sport. Those that exemplify sportsmanship often do the following:

  • Have a positive attitude.

  • Always do your best.

  • Encourage your teammates.

  • Show respect to members of the other team.

  • Accept calls and do not argue with the officials.

  • Take pride in winning but don’t rub it in.

  • Accept a loss with grace and learn from your mistakes.

  • Play fair

  • Cheer for your teammates.

To support these attributes take a look at the videos below. These are great tools to show students first hand what it means to be a good sport.

Strikeout Hug

Runners Helping

Softball Players

Comforting Pitcher

Picks Up Ref

Referees Quitting

Roncalli Baseball

Basketball Player

At the end of October we will once again share a google form for you to recognize one student from your school that best exhibited this character trait. I’m sure you will have a lot of students to celebrate!

Last call to sign up for PD sessions on October 7th. Please make sure all of your teachers received this link!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

    1. Catholic Schools Day at the BPO will be held on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 10:15 am at Kleinhans Music Hall. The program is designed for students in Grades 1-4. Ticket information and registration can be found here. The deadline to register is January 9, 2023. Please see the following links for lesson plans. Lesson 1; Lesson 2; Lesson 3; Lesson 4

    2. The Department of Catholic Schools is now looking to hire a part-time athletic director. Virtual work is available. Contact the office for more information.

  1. The 175th Anniversary Committee has developed a number of great resources for students & teachers to celebrate the diocese's demisemiseptcentennial anniversary, including sample lesson plans, tour guides, and a "Flat Timon" PDF for a social media contest. This will be found under "teacher resources" on our website but can also be accessed here.

  2. Here is the link for the Office Blog with the latest forms and information. This can be found on the website under "Blogs."

  3. For all your STREAM-related content, check out the STREAM page

Chris Riso on Government Services

  • 9/30/22 NCEA Excel Form Due via Online Google Sheet

  • 9/30/22 Post Required Flu Educational Materials in Plain View
  • 10/5/22 BEDS Enrollment Anchor Date – Count All Staff & Students

NCEA Survey Due 9/30/22 based on 9/16/22 Enrollment: Thank you for completing your online NCEA report in Google Sheets by the 9/30/2022 deadline. A few schools have contacted me because they have lost track of their link to the NCEA report for their school. Please email Laurie Wojtaszczyk at if you need help accessing your Google Sheet. Once we review your submission over the next few weeks we may email you asking for clarification on some of the information in your report.

BEDS Day is October 5th – Information will be sent to you by 10/3/2022: Once your NCEA report is submitted by 9/30/2022, you can turn your attention to the upcoming NYS BEDS report. We will send you information by 10/3/2022 to help you prepare for this report based on student attendance from Wednesday, 10/5/2022. The actual online BEDS report is not due to NYSED until November 18th.

Flu Posting Requirement: Last week you should have received a memo from NYS about New York State Public Health Law Section 613 that requires schools to post flu educational material in plain view in their facilities. Information about this requirement, the recommended poster, and additional resources can be found at Flu (Influenza) Information for Child-Care Providers and Schools (

COVID Tests Available for Schools with an LSL: If your school has an LSL and is still administering COVID tests in-school and you need more tests, email me and I will send you the information on how to request additional tests (minimum of 200 tests).

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Coach Brian is retiring next Monday, Oct 3rd, so we're now looking for a part-time Athletic Director. If you are interested or would like to nominate someone, email or call the office.

  • Please sign up here by Sep. 27th to let us know how many golfers you are sending for Diocesan Golf.

  • Please sign up here by Sep. 30th to let us know how many teams you are sending for Diocesan Kickball.

  • ALL COACHES & VOLUNTEERS Must be background checked prior to coaching a team.

  • Please see the kickball and golf flyers to sign your schools up for these new activities.

Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information.

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. Diocesan Professional Development Day October 7, 2022 at St. Amelia's. You should have received a separate form for teachers to RSVP for certain sessions.
  3. Diocesan Education Summit, November 10th. This is for principals, pastors/canonical administrators, board chairs, and one other stakeholder (4 from each school). Click here to RSVP.


  1. Academic Initiatives for 2022-23
  2. The Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  3. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  4. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  5. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  6. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  7. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  8. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This week on the Catholic School Matters podcast, I talk with Greg Richmond, the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In his second year, Greg comes from the charter world and shares his unique perspective on this new position which he loves.

Previous episodes:

  • This week's podcast gives us a chance to hear the perspective of a person fired from her position at a Catholic high school due to same-sex marriage.
  • Season 7 kicked off with a great conversation with Rich Clark of Cleveland. He helped found a Cristo Rey High School and played a pivotal role in Partnership School's Expansion to Cleveland. Our interview was recorded on September 2nd and Rich passed away on September 20th.

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic Education Stories

I'll be collecting stories on Catholic education at this site. This week's entries:

· Chevrus HS in Portland, ME approved to participate in state funding as a result of Carson v. Makin

· Retrospective on Cardinal Ritter’s decision to integrate St. Louis Catholic schoola 75 years ago and the threats he received from Catholics

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Phone: 716-847-5520
Twitter: @drtimuhl

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

Sep 20, 2022 "The Learning Platform"

Sep 13, 2022 "Diocesan Education Summit"

Sep 6, 2022 "Welcoming the Virtues"

Aug 30, 2022 "Bowling Together"

August 23, 2022 "Strategic Planning"

For previous newsletters, click this link

A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.