PROVIDENCE — Kathleen Morry, after coaxing by her fellow parishioners at St. Augustine Church, finally made the move from public school teacher to parochial school teacher 29 years ago, and she has never left.
She taught grade 5 at St. Augustine School in 1985, and six years later was appointed principal. She has had the joy of seeing the children of her former students now attend the closely-knit school community of 290 students from pre-k to grade 5.
“God sent me here,” says Morry, who feels honored to have been selected to receive the diocese’s Lumen Gentium Award for Education. “He guides me every day. Faith is strong here and it permeates throughout the school and in all the teachers, who are all Catholic. I attend daily morning Mass and pray the rosary. I know there are many graces given to me every day. I couldn’t live life without Him, and I wouldn’t want to.”
Morry, a self-described “hillbilly from West Virginia,” is married to lifelong St. Augustine Church parishioner Paul Morry, and the couple have three daughters and five grandchildren, two of whom are students at the school.
She keeps a busy schedule as a past president of the Rosary and Altar Society at St. Augustine, a member of the Board of Directors at Fruit Hill Day Center for the Elderly, as regional chairperson for Catholic Elementary Schools, chairperson of a committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and as a member of the Lions Club of North Providence.
Morry keeps the faith that parochial schools will remain an important part of the community at large for many years to come.
“This is the foundation as a Catholic that you can’t skip,” she said. “Going to a Catholic school is part of their life from pre-K to grade 5 or 8. They may not pay attention to this foundation at some point in high school or college, but it will come back into their life later. We are always planting seeds that will bloom later and foundations that will stand firm throughout their lives.
“We will always need church schools because it is such a secular world where God is being taken out of everything. What makes our school strong, and we have a waiting list to get in, is that we stay with the basics and I think a child needs that.”
Another strong held belief for Morry is parents being engaged in their child’s education.
“When they see their parents involved in their school, it helps the children spiritually and academically,” Morry said. “Most everyone here is a member of our parish, so the children see each other’s families at mass and at events at the church, and that reinforces everything we teach about our faith. I love the community environment; they are invested in their education and in their spiritual life. Some 85 percent of our students go to St. Augustine Church.”
She said that her Lumen Gentium honor came as a “total surprise.”
“It is very humbling that someone thought that of me in a professional way and in a faith that I love very much,” she said. “That humbles me.”
Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will continue to feature profiles of the 15 winners in the 10 categories of the diocese’s 2014 Lumen Gentium Award, which formally recognizes those who ‘toil in the vineyard’ in service to the Lord, and minister to those in greatest need in their parish or community. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Events Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 14, beginning at 6 p.m. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will benefit the soup kitchens and food pantries administered by 75 parishes across the diocese — are asked to register online at:
www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-2014. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.