By Lou Baldwin
Special to the CS&T

SOUTHAMPTON – Pope Pius XII said it best: “The soul of education is the education of the soul.”

Father Anthony J. D’Angelico, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Southampton, used this apt quote from Pope Pius during an Oct. 20 strategic planning meeting for education in the parish hall attended by school and parish workers and interested parents.

Such planning has been mandated by the Archdiocese, Father D. Angelico told them, emphasizing Catholic education isn’t just running a parish school.

“Education from the cradle to eternity is so important,” he said.

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Giving what he termed a “State of the Union Report,” he recalled the parish history from its foundation in 1923 and the opening of the school under the second pastor, Father Francis P. McNelis.

From reports at the meeting the state of Our Lady of Good Counsel is excellent. School enrollment is going up, there is an increase in lay ministries, and church attendance is up to about 1,900, although not as high as the pastor would like. Most weekends the parish offers six Masses, but a Sunday night Youth Mass is added twice monthly.

The young people are also served through active CYO and youth ministry programs, Father D’Angelico noted, but also said, “Education is all phases, parish school, PREP education and adult education.”

Some of the areas explored at the meeting were a review of Catholic identity, a review of academic performance, technology, recruitment and retention of students, and a marketing plan for the future.

“I do believe it is important to do this,” said Frank Mokriski, principal of Our Lady of Good Counsel School, which this year has 434 students. “That’s up 16 from last year,” he said.

The strategic planning process gives an overview of ministry and “a ministry of the Church is to educate people.”

Marianna Rossi, OLGC’s director of religious education, said at this time there were close to 400 children in the PREP program for children who are not in Catholic school and 12 to 15 people in the RCIA program.

Noting the presence of both school and PREP parents at the meeting she said, “Catholic families should know the how and why of what we do. Primarily we are here for the children to really unfold their faith along with their parents.”

Financially, the parish is healthy, according to the report given by OLGC business manager Rose Marie Cwik.

Father D’Angelico listed what he believes are four attributes of a vital parish: “parish as a worshipping community; parish as an educational resource from cradle to grave; parish as social-oriented people; and parish leadership from the top down – the pastor, assistants and lay ministers.”

All of the above are present at OLGC he said, adding, “I feel as though we have a great future. All areas of Catholic education at Our Lady of Good Counsel are moving in a positive and life-giving direction. We continue to seek improvements in all areas of Catholic life.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.