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Sister Mary Grace Walsh accepts new position in the Archdiocese of Hartford

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For Immediate Release

Brian D. Wallace
Director of Communications
Diocese of Bridgeport
(203) 416-1464

Maria Zone
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Hartford
(860) 541-6491

Sister Mary Grace Walsh Accepts New Position in the Archdiocese of Hartford

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (Oct. 22, 2015) — Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D. will leave her post as Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport on December 31, 2015 to accept the newly-created position of Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Her new position will be effective January 1, 2016.

The announcement was made today by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford, and Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

sr mary grace-ascj-sm

Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D. has accepted the position of Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Hartford, effective January 1, 2016.

Archbishop Blair said the position of Provost has grown out of the Pastoral Planning process of the Archdiocese and its overall effort to strengthen and expand the organizational effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness to the changing needs of the parishes, schools, clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese of Hartford; especially to develop a continuum of faith development and formation.

“I am very happy to welcome Sister Mary Grace to her new position with the Archdiocese of Hartford,” said Archbishop Blair. “Her many personal gifts, talents, and wealth of experience will enable her to bring vision and leadership to the newly-formed Department of Education, Evangelization and Catechesis. As a Religious of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she will also bring the dimension of consecrated life to the exercise of her responsibilities for the good of our local Church.”

As Provost, she will have responsibility for the Office of the Permanent Diaconate Education, Office of Catholic Schools, Office of Religious Education, and the Office of Faith Development and Evangelization. She will work closely with a broad coalition of Archdiocesan leadership, staff and parishes to develop a detailed plan or academic vision for addressing the educational and developmental needs of school children, teenagers, adults and the consecrated.

“Although we are at a transforming moment in the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport where Sister Mary Grace’s exceptional leadership would be essential, I must respect the movement of the Holy Spirit in all of this. The promptings of the Spirit essentially point to this simple fact: it is very clear that the Archdiocese needs Sister Mary Grace right now to accomplish what needs to get done there. I said that with conviction but also with tremendous sadness because I have the greatest respect and admiration for Sister, and I will miss her terribly,” said Bishop Caggiano. “

He noted that Sister Mary Grace will be returning to the diocese where she was born and raised, and that her new assignment is both a significant new challenge and a homecoming.

“Sister Mary Grace is a strong and gifted leader whose faith, wisdom, creativity, vision, and commitment to spreading the Gospel have brought education and pastoral formation in our diocese to new heights of excellence.  I am grateful to Sister for her tireless work on behalf of thousands of young people and adults, and we will never forget how hard she worked to keep Christ at the center of our lives.”

The Bishop said that in her long and accomplished career in the work of Catholic education, Sister Mary Grace has demonstrated a true love for its mission along with an outstanding professional competency to lead our schools effectively into the future.  He praised her “unwavering commitment to strengthen the Catholic identity of our schools that has created a foundation for further growth and vitality.”

Sister Mary Grace was named Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport by Bishop Caggiano in October 2013, almost immediately after his installation.  She was responsible for more than 9,000 students and 1,000 faculty members in the 31 elementary and high schools sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport.

As part of the diocesan reorganization undertaken by the Bishop in October 2014, she was also named Secretary for Catholic Education and Faith Formation.

Among her many achievements working with the bishop to reorganize Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport, was the development of the new Education Commission in 2014 and the initiation of a strategic plan for education to insure the viability and vitality of Catholic schools in the diocese.  Consistent with the mandates of the recently-completed diocesan Synod, Sister Mary Grace also played a role in the integration of the Faith Formation Office into the new secretariat that included schools.

Sister Mary Grace said she spent much time in prayer and reflection when the new position was created.

“I am grateful to Bishop Caggiano for the many opportunities he gave me and for the honor of serving as both Superintendent and Secretary,” said Sister Mary Grace. “I also look forward to the new assignment in the Archdiocese where I was educated and formed in the faith.”

“In my 10 years of service in the diocese, I have witnessed our schools flourish with the assistance of parents who, as the primary educators of their children, choose to entrust their children to our schools—often at great sacrifice. I want to express my gratitude to all those who worked to make our schools faith filled communities—the parents, faculty, clergy, school advisory boards and generous donors who embrace the mission of Catholic education,” she said.

About Sr. Mary Grace Walsh:  Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D. is a member of the religious congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has its U.S. provincialate in Hamden, Conn.

She served as Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Bridgeport, from July 2006 until she was named acting Superintendent in February 2013, after Dr. Margaret Dames accepted a leadership position in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.  During that time she also functioned as Interim Principal, St. Thomas Aquinas School, Fairfield from August 2007-July 2008.

In the past, she has served as Principal in the Archdiocese of New York and the dioceses of Metuchen, NJ and Providence, RI, and as a Teacher K-12 in the Archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Born and raised in New Haven and as a parishioner of St. Aedan’s parish, Sister Mary Grace Walsh earned her Ph.D. Educational Administration and Supervision/church Leadership from Fordham University, New York, and an M.A. in Education Administration and Supervision from Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO. She is also a graduate of Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, Conn., where she earned a B.A. in English.

She served as a member of the Archdiocesan School Board, Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. until June 15 and as co-chair of the Professional Development Committee of the New England CACE (Chief Administrators of Catholic Education), Professional Development Co-chair. Her areas of interest and research include Catholic School Governance, Mission Effectiveness, Institutional Leadership, Catholic Identity, School Change, Strategic Planning, Administrator and Teacher Formation, Curriculum Design.

The Diocese of Bridgeport will begin a national search for a new Superintendent of Schools immediately. (For more information about Catholic schools in Fairfield County, visit the website of the Diocese of Bridgeport at www. bridgeportdiocese.com, or phone 203.416.1380.)

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