Elías J. Moo, principal of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy, reflected on his life, career and mission after being named Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Denver. Moo obtained a master’s in education from the University of Notre Dame and began working at St. Rose of Lima in Denver as a teacher 11 years ago. He shared his aspirations as superintendent with the Denver Catholic.
Denver Catholic: You have attended Catholic school from kindergarten to college, what has that experience meant for you?
Elías Moo: My Catholic education has been a tremendous blessing for me and for my family. The reason why I have the opportunity to be superintendent is because of my Catholic education. To be able to partake in it as a teacher, principal and superintendent, continues to affirm what I think has been God’s call in my life: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
My formation as an academic, but most importantly the formation of my soul as a follower of Christ, all point to one direction, and that is to follow him and make disciples of all peoples. In this capacity, I’m looking forward to supporting our schools in becoming epicenters for the evangelization of our communities.
DC: What is your vision for Catholic education in Denver?
EM: My vision is that our Catholic schools be the best; not the best in the world or the best in terms of receiving accolades. We definitely want our schools to be successful and have strong academics. Yet, more than anything, we want our schools to be known as the best for the world, as shining examples of what education should be for all children.
We want to be that beacon for the world of what it means to form human beings in an authentic manner: In a way that directs our students to understand that their role in the world is to build the kingdom of God, be Christ for others and seek the common good in society.
The hope is that if our schools are the best for the world, the fruits are going to be missionary disciples: Men and women who are unafraid to give witness to their faith, to truth, and who form their intellect and soul for the greater glory of God and the salvation of the world.
DC: How do you value your experience as a classroom teacher and principal at St. Rose of Lima School as you take on the role of superintendent?
EM: I feel privileged to have been able to serve at St. Rose during all these years. The experiences that I’ve had as a teacher and building leader have enabled me to get a good sense of the daily work of this ministry. I am a better leader because I was a teacher.
The experiences I’ve had at St. Rose have taught me to build a community and get to know the people I’m serving, whether that’s the smallest student or the volunteers that come in your building, or benefactors. Catholic education is a labor of love on behalf of many people and it’s a team effort.
I’m looking forward to getting to know intimately the other school communities, so that together we can work on making our schools the best for the world. My desire is that our schools look to the Office of Catholic Schools as a source of support.
DC: As a Hispanic and son of immigrants, why is it important to reach out to the Hispanic community in Catholic education and what can it contribute to the school system?
EM: When my parents came to the United States and started their family, they knew right away that they wanted to be able to give us the greatest inheritance they could possibly leave us, and that wasn’t money, it was a Catholic education. They knew it, even if it meant sacrificing luxuries. I think many of our Hispanic families yearn for the same thing. We would like to get to a point where we can say that finances are never an impediment to enrolling children in our Catholic schools.
Also, in many ways, God has brought the Hispanic community to our schools and Church because he needs the gifts they have to offer to help sustain and strengthen our communities: Their dispositions toward family, faith life, the devotion that is present to our Mother Mary and the unconditional support that is present for the children. These are all gifts that our Catholic Schools can benefit from, and by extension, our entire Church.
DC: What are you most grateful for in this opportunity in your life and career?
EM: I’m grateful for the confidence that’s been shown and given to me on behalf of the Church community and Archbishop Aquila. I’m excited and looking forward to serving the Church in our schools in this capacity. I would only request that our entire archdiocese and school communities pray for me, so that I may be faithful to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and transformed into a true image of Christ for the good of our Catholic schools and Church.