Archbishop to Rhode Island Catholic school teachers: 'Think of how you show the face of God to others'

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WARWICK — It was about 0900 for Archbishop Timothy Broglio, 9 a.m. for his civilian audience.

Archbishop Broglio, the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, addressed a couple hundred Catholic school teachers, administrators and staff members at St. Benedict Church on August 30. He was the keynote speaker for the first citywide Catholic schools retreat in Warwick.

“As Catholic school teachers, you have the opportunity to make the face of Christ come alive in hundreds of ways, every single day,” said the archbishop, who focused his two keynote talks on the importance of being an authentic witness to Christ and sharing the Gospel.

And being a Catholic school teacher, the archbishop said, goes beyond teaching students how to read or solve math problems.

“Catholic education is so much more than job training or fulfilling a course requirement,” he said.

Father Robert Marciano, the pastor of St. Kevin and St. Benedict Parish and president of Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, invited Archbishop Broglio to address the local Catholic educators. Father Marciano personally knows the archbishop from his own background as a chaplain in the Air National Guard.

“It’s a great honor for all of our schools to have someone of such stature impart his wisdom to us as we start a new school year,” said Father Marciano, who worked at the Pentagon from 2006-2010 when he served as chief of chaplains for the U.S. Air National Guard.

Father Marciano, who retired from the Rhode Island National Guard in 2016, said he was a member of Archbishop Broglio’s priest council during his years at the Pentagon. The archbishop accepted his invitation to travel to Rhode Island a few months ago.

“He’s a dynamic priest,” said Father Marciano.

While introducing the archbishop to the educators, Father Marciano focused on his background as a Vatican diplomat and former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

As the lead pastor of all U.S. military personnel and their families, Father Marciano said Archbishop Broglio often spends his holidays overseas, ministering to troops stationed in combat zones. Father Marciano joked that the archbishop is all too familiar with the inside of an airplane.

For his part, the archbishop — who had arrived in Rhode Island a day earlier and spent the previous evening at dinner with priests and others at Bishop Hendricken High School — did not at all seem jet-lagged. He spoke for well over an hour, after which he celebrated Mass for all in attendance.

“We are a people of faith and hope,” Archbishop Broglio said, adding that the role of Catholic school teachers is essential to the Church’s mission of passing down the faith to future generations.

Referring to cultural forces that seek to confine religious convictions to the four walls of the church building, the archbishop implored the educators before him to live out their Catholic faith in their classrooms, and to be authentic witnesses to their students.

“We are all challenged to be lead by and inspired by the Gospel in a world that doesn’t always appreciate that aspect of our lives,” Archbishop Broglio said.

The archbishop’s words found a receptive audience at St. Benedict Church.

“His message was very good. I hope everyone is taking it in,” said Dianne Preble, a staff member at Bishop Hendricken High School.

Anthony Viola, a math teacher at Bishop Hendricken High School, said the archbishop’s talk reminded him of the Catholic educators’ responsibility to take their unique vocation seriously and live out the call of Christ in their own lives.

“Otherwise, if we aren’t giving them the correct example, then it all becomes disingenuous,” Viola said, adding that Catholic educators are called “to a higher standard.”

“It’s humbling to have someone of his stature here with us today,” said Mark DeCiccio, the principal of Bishop Hendricken High School who noted that the gathering was the first retreat for the educators and staff members of all the Catholic schools in Warwick.

“It’s a great motivator. It gives everyone a great kickstart to the year,” DeCiccio said. “I’m positive that something great will come out of this.”

In his second talk, Archbishop Broglio told the Catholic school teachers that each of them, indeed every Catholic, has the potential to rebuild society and the world if they cultivate authentic virtue.

Said the archbishop, “Think of how you show the face of God to others.”