Principal gives schools office A+

Julie Filby

Editor’s note: This story is the second in a Denver Catholic Register series about archdiocesan ministries and programs funded by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.

As she finishes up her first year as principal at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Wheat Ridge, Carmelite Sister Mary Patrice Matamoros reflected on the experience. While it’s been a good one, it has also involved a learning curve.

Sister Matamoros, along with all school principals, manages numerous details and makes many decisions over the course of a school year. She is grateful for the support she has received from the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools in managing those details, making good decisions, and continually striving to provide students with a rigorous education and strong spiritual formation.

“They have been extremely supportive,” she told the Denver Catholic Register May 8 while on a break from the monthly principals’ meeting at the St. John Paul II Center in south Denver. “Whenever a new and unknown situation has come up, number one, they always answer the phone. They respond quickly, and they are always there to give advice.”

Sister Matamoros, a native of Miami, Fla., entered the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles community in 1993. She is an experienced educator, serving in elementary education for 25 years, including teaching in Colorado, Florida, California and Arizona.

“Not only do they provide support, but true dialogue,” she said. “They guide and mentor and form the principals, with love and encouragement, in a straightforward way.”

Part of that formation has included participation in the principal induction program provided by the Office of Catholic Schools. The program brings new principals together for a full day once a month to help set “principles for the principals” through study and learning to apply Church documents, such as St. John Paul II’s writings on catechesis, to the Catholic culture of the school.

“In the induction program we receive solid Catholic formation so we are equipped,” she said. “To help form students we must make sure we ourselves are solid in our faith.

“We have the mission to impart the Catholic faith that is subtlety being eroded by society.”

The program also includes time for the Office of Catholic Schools’ team to further educate new principals on policies and procedures, and for the principals to get feedback from the superintendents.

In addition, the office assigns each new principal a seasoned mentor principal: Sister Matamoros was assigned Sister of St. Francis Mary Rose Lieb, principal at St. Francis de Sales School since 2012 and principal of Holy Family High School for 18 years.

Sister Matamoros also appreciates the Office of Catholic Schools for their guidance and expertise in areas such as legal and contract situations, compliance, liability, events, marketing and planning.

“They walk us through any situation,” she said, “and they direct us and teach us where to find the information we need.

“Because the support is there and I’ve been able to keep in contact with them,” she said, “I in turn can do the best I can for the school.”

Office of Catholic Schools
Phone: 303-715-3200



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Central office ‘pays it forward’ to 40 Catholic schools

While Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools is the largest private school system in Colorado—at nearly 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers—it is a relatively small, but dedicated and experienced, team of individuals that act as the “central office.” This team of five provides vision, direction and supervision to the community of 38 elementary/middle schools and two high schools.

To make a donation
Mail: 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210
Phone: 303-715-3111

Individuals that make up the Office of Catholic Schools, based at the chancery building on the campus of the St. John Paul II Center in south Denver, include: Richard Thompson, superintendent; Sister Elizabeth Youngs, S.C.L., and Mary Cohen, associate superintendents; Barbara Anglada, special programs director; Deidre Moog, executive secretary; and the office is in the midst of hiring a Spanish-speaking administrative assistant.

“We work hard with the funds we’re provided,” Thompson told the Denver Catholic Register May 7. “We try to be good stewards of those funds and pay it forward.”

In the spirit of servant leadership, the office advises and assists administrators and teachers, so they in turn can achieve their mission: to form the whole child in moral and academic excellence.

“When (donors) invest in us,” Thompson said, “they’re investing in all kinds of students and teachers.”

From a practical and catechetical standpoint, just a few of the ways the office serves the schools are: helping recruit qualified teachers by attending teachers’ fairs, heading up a principal formation program that forms teachers into potential leaders through 65 hours of discernment, education and catechesis; complementing education and Church teaching related to sexuality with an annual chastity rally for eighth-graders, and developing ethically responsible sports leaders by promoting the “Play Like a Champion” initiative of the University of Notre Dame. The office recently received a Faithful Leadership Award from Notre Dame for their efforts implementing “Play Like a Champion” in the archdiocese.

“We work to get kids to college,” Thompson said, “and (ultimately) to heaven.”

Additional support services they provide include long-term strategic planning, policy promulgation, safety guidelines, financial review, legal advice and school accreditation.

For more information about the Office of Catholic Schools, visit, call 303-715-3200 or email

Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal Through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries are supported by donations to the annual campaign. Donations fund ministries created to catechize students, educate seminarians, provide food and shelter to the impoverished, lead the wayward back to the Church and communicate the Gospel message. Archbishop Samuel Aquila chose this year’s theme “Go, therefore, and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) to encourage the faithful to re-evaluate their roles in making disciples. Everyone can be disciples for Christ, he said, either directly or indirectly. Gifts to the appeal are one way the faithful can help make disciples for Christ.




COMING UP: Saint John Institute hosts inaugural graduation

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Regina Ramsey was tired of hearing complaints about what’s wrong with the world and what needs to change within the Catholic Church. She wanted to act.

“I decided that I could either join the people talking about the changes that needed to be made or I could do something about it,” said Ramsey.

That’s when she turned to the Saint John Institute — an MBA program run by the Congregation of Saint John centered on the New Evangelization that helps students develop their gifts to become great leaders in the Church.

“An MBA through Saint John Institute seemed to be the right fit because it combined business knowledge with deep spiritual formation,” said Ramsey.

After graduating from the Saint John Institute with fellow student Brianne Schulze on April 15 — the first students to graduate from the program — Ramsey looks forward to centering her daily life on her Catholic faith. She hopes to one day help non-profits utilize business structures to help them with long-term success.

The Saint John Institute isn’t your average MBA program.

“Our program is different from other MBA programs because of the focus on developing an authentic prayer life and spirituality,” said Father Francis Therese Kratter, the program’s chaplain.

Father Nathan Cromley, president of the Saint John Institute, hands Brianne Schulze her diploma at the inaugural graduation ceremony for the institute April 15. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“We all know deep down that prayer is what makes our lives fruitful, but we rarely devote the time we know we should to this most important activity,” he said.

The Saint John Institute shapes students through two years of monastic prayer and study, said Father Kratter. He believes the success of current and future students steams from a foundation of prayer.

Students like Schulze were attracted to the program because of that spiritual formation.

“I saw the MBA as a necessary challenge to help me gain the practical business skills I needed to be able to evangelize more effectively through my art,” she said.

Schulze is an artist whose goal was to develop her skills and use them to glorify God.

“Art and beauty point to the eternal,” she said, “and I feel I have a responsibility in creating work that does that — work that gives people an opportunity to encounter Christ through the transcendent power of beauty.”

Schulze was deeply inspired by the Brothers of Saint John, who form the students both academically and spiritually.

“They challenged me in my faith and have helped lead me to Christ in a deeper way than I ever thought possible,” said Schulze.

For more information on the Saint John Institute, visit