Catholic Identity Formation Team

Dear SJRS and OLMA families, faculty and staff, 

 

We are very encouraged and excited to share a new initiative that began in 2021 at Saint Joseph Regional School and Our Lady of Mercy Academy. This has been a collaborative effort that we have undertaken to help nurture the full mission and vision of our schools. 

 

As a Catholic school, not only do we hope to provide a rich educational experience for our students, but one that is authentically Catholic and infuses the beauty and truths of our faith and the messages of Jesus Christ into everything we do and teach. This is especially important in today’s world where we are all surrounded by moral relativism, secular ideologies and materialism. The Catholic faith is awesome and life-giving and it is a blessing to be able to teach it and live it within our schools! By doing this, not only do we teach our students about their true dignity and worth as beloved children of God, but we also inspire and form them to be witnesses and true disciples of Christ in their own families and communities. 

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Inspired by a desire to reveal our faith, we assembled a Catholic Identity Formation Team. The mission of the Catholic Identity Formation Team (CIFT) is to form, foster, and preserve the authentic Catholic identity of our schools, St. Joseph Regional School and Our Lady of Mercy Academy. 

 

The team is composed of a group of Catholic educators, administrators, pastors and parents whose particular focus is to look at the areas of teacher recruitment, faith formation, curriculum, and school culture. The group will also provide support and guidance to the administration regarding issues that the school faces surrounding Catholic identity. 

 

Finally, we ask that you continue to pray for our students, our school and this work - that it always be Christ - centered and fruitful. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to work together and serve our students and families in this way. 

 

May Your Spirit Be Lifted, 

Christopher Smith                 Very Rev Alan C. Tremblay

Principal                                Pastor- Parish of the Holy Spirit

Our Mission Statement

The mission of the Catholic Identity Formation Team (CIFT) is to form, foster, and preserve the authentic Catholic identity of our schools, St. Joseph Regional School (SJRS) and Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA).

Our Vision Statement

That our schools inspire and form our students to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today.

Scope of the Team's Work

The scope of CIFT is no more and no less than all things regarding the Catholic identity of our schools.  This scope is both broad and narrow at the same time.  The focus of CIFT is not so much on the academic element of our schools, but rather the moral and spiritual dimensions that make our schools Catholic. 

Applications

Form

  • With the help of the Holy Spirit, create and form an authentic Catholic vision for our schools.

  • Provide formation to both students and staff regarding the “what,” “why,” and “how” behind various Catholic beliefs, practices, and traditions.

 

Foster

  • Support the personal, spiritual growth of both students and faculty/staff by offering regular prayer experiences, retreat days, inspirational talks, etc. 

  • Cultivate a culture of service where students and staff are encouraged to put their faith into action both at school and in the surrounding community.

  • Promote an environment that celebrates authentic Catholic culture and values (sacred art, feast days of saints, virtuous living, etc.).

 

Preserve

  • Aid in the hiring process in pursuit of employees who share the desire to form, foster, and preserve the Catholic identity of our schools.

  • Review curriculum as needed to ensure it is conducive to deepening and enlivening the faith life of our students (i.e., ordered to the true, the good, and the beautiful).

  • Provide counsel and clarity to assist our schools when questions or issues arise regarding Catholic teaching (e.g., guiding students through controversial societal issues with truth and love, assessing whether a new club or class is congruent with our Catholic identity, etc.). 

 

Contact Us

CIFT meets monthly to discuss ways in which we can better form, foster, and preserve the authentic Catholic identity of our schools.  We welcome any questions, comments, or concerns regarding the Catholic activities or curriculum of our schools–it’s why we’re here!  For all inquiries, please feel free to reach out to OLMA Campus Minister, Chelsea Herman, at CIFT@stjosephkeene.org or at 603-352-2720.

 

 

Catholic Identity Formation Team Members

Suzanne Foder

Sue Foder has taught at Saint Joseph's since 2006.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Keene State College.  She is NHDOE certified.  Ms. Foder also advises the Kiwanis Builders Club and serves as the Lead Teacher for the Middle School.


Stephenie Konopka

Stephenie has taught first grade at SJRS since 2016.  She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Keene State College with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and is certified by the NHDOE.  Her family is active at St. Bernard's Parish.


Andy Cardine

Andy is Lead Teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Academy, a lifelong member of the Parish of the Holy Spirit, and Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus Council.  He has volunteered to be a member of the CIFT to help establish a long-term direction for the schools that ties in the needs of the students, their families, the faculty, and the parish and stays true to the mission of both schools.  Having worked previously as an Engineering Supervisor at a Fortune 250 company he brings a desire to focus efforts on areas with highest impact, and to keep a team focused on meeting their objectives.  


Chelsea Herman

A native of Camdenton, Missouri, Chelsea is a 2010 graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas with degrees in Theology and Youth Ministry.  She serves as the Campus Minister at Our Lady of Mercy Academy as well as the Youth Minister for the Parish of the Holy Spirit. 

Cheryl Mihaly

Cheryl is currently working in the Parish of the Holy Spirit as Parish Liaison. She is trained in Professional Mental Health Counseling and worked for 14 years as a registered nurse in Maternal and child health in clinical and home settings. Her four children are now adults and with grandchildren arriving and thriving.  She is still passionate about the holistic formation of children, youth, marriages, families and parish communities. She has volunteered in Catholic schools, public schools, homeschooling groups, parish youth ministry, pro-life ministry and community programs such as opening a consignment store for mothers and children to help provide for families in the community whose resources are limited. 

 

Annie Pearson

I am a SJRS alumnus, wife, Catholic physician and mother of three children who all attend SJRS and OLMA. I am grateful to be a parishioner of the Parish of the Holy Spirit where we are involved in various ministries as a family and am very excited to be working with this team to help foster our Catholic identity as a school. 

 

Christopher Smith

Chris serves as Principal of St. Joseph Regional School and Our Lady of Mercy Academy, and teaches 8th grade Literature and 12th grade Ethics courses.  His two children are also graduates of SJRS.


Anthony Sully

Anthony Sully joined the teaching staff at OLMA in 2021, teaching both Theology and French.  He and his wife are recent transplants to New Hampshire, having relocated from Southern California in October 2020.  Anthony studied both Philosophy and Theology for six years in France and in Israel, and has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology.  

 

Fr. Alan Tremblay

Fr. Alan is the pastor of the Parish of the Holy Spirit that includes St. Bernard's Church, which shares a campus with SJRS and OLMA, as well as St. Margaret Mary Church (west Keene), and St. Joseph's Church (Hinsdale).


Carol Spindler

Carol has been a parishioner at St Bernard’s/Parish of the Holy Spirit since 2005. She serves as a lector and in faith formation, particularly Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She is delighted to combine her experience in education with her love of the Catholic faith as part of the newly formed CIFT.

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