Local Catholic School Wins National Award
March 8, 2022 • Savanna Kearney
Principal Barbara Kavanagh stands with students who enrolled at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton thanks to the REI program.

Congratulations to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Palm Coast on being the recent recipient of the 2022 Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ National Award. Instituted by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), this award is presented to an individual or institution that offers exceptional leadership in promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs.

This award is in recognition of the school’s Rural Education Initiative, which was started two years ago at the suggestion of Bishop Felipe Estévez. The Rural Education Initiative (REI) provides the children of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Crescent City with a Catholic Education. With the help of a grant from the Catholic Foundation, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton bought a bus to transport children from Crescent City to the school in Palm Coast. During the first year of the program, 17 children from Crescent City enrolled at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Since then, that number has gone up to 24 children.

“Our dream is to provide a Catholic education to all the children in our parish. While we continue to pursue this noble goal, we also reach out to the children in Crescent City where they have no Catholic school. The children and their parents from Crescent City are extremely happy that we have taken up this mission for which we have been given the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ, National Award,” said Father Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Sister Catherine T. McNamee, Ph.D., (1931-2020), was a visionary leader in education, who belonged to the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ). She was the first woman president of the National Catholic Education Association (1986-1996), who also served as the president of Trinity College, Burlington, VT (1976-1979) and the president of the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University), St. Paul, MN (1979-1984).  

The Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award will be presented to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School at the NCEA National Convention in New Orleans on Monday, April 18.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate our principal, Barbara Kavanagh, teachers, staff, and all those who now work tirelessly to make our REI program successful,” said Father Jose.