Schools welcome new faces, familiar ones as principals

Six of the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic schools are being led by new principals this academic year.

Tracy AlarconName: Tracy Alarcon
School: All Souls, Englewood
Education: master’s in educational administration from the University of Phoenix, bachelor’s in liberal studies and English from California State University in Sacramento
Service: 16 years in education; previously principal of St. Rose of Lima School, teacher at St. Thomas More School in Centennial and St. Mary School in Littleton, teacher at the Little Flower School in Reno, Nev.

What led you to being principal?
“It’s just an opportunity that opened up that was a little closer to home. I felt it was time to pass the torch.”


Donna BornhoftName: Donna Bornhoft
School: St. Mary, Greeley
Education: master’s in educational leadership from Regis University, bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Service: 23 years in education; previously a second-grade teacher at St. Mary School in Greeley and St. Joseph School in Fort Collins

What are your goals this year?
“My biggest goals are building our staff culture and making sure Jesus is the center of all we do here, not just among staff but among families sand students. If we build our inner core community, I’m hoping that will in turn build the outer community culture. I have such a love for this school. I have a vision that I would like to see happen that includes my strong faith. I want to bring that to my community.”


Carla CapstickName: Carla Capstick
School: Blessed Sacrament
Education: doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership from the University of Denver, master’s in education from the University of Phoenix, bachelor’s in history from the University of Denver
Service: 39 years in education; affiliate faculty at Regis University; previously principal of Rite of Passage schools for incarcerated juveniles, consultant for the National Center for School Engagement, assistant principal of Westminster High School, dean department coordinator and interim assistant principal and dean of students at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, social studies teacher coordinator at Grandview High School in Aurora, teacher at Laredo Middle School in Aurora, also teacher at Cherry Creek schools and Bear Creek High School in Lakewood

What are your goals this year?
“I hope to take our academics to the next level. I want to make sure we deepen our love for Jesus and work on our faith formation and service.”


Kemmery HillName: Kemmery Hill
School: St. John the Baptist, Longmont
Education: master’s in literacy coaching and education and bachelor’s in history, both from the University of Northern Colorado
Service: 10 years in education; previously teacher at St. John the Baptist in Longmont

What are your goals this year?
“We have a big goal of really trying to integrate our technology into our education. We just purchased an iPad and we’re really looking at developing that in our school.”


Elias MooName: Elias Moo
School: St. Rose of Lima
Education: master’s in education, bachelor’s in sociology and theology, both from University of Notre Dame in Indiana
Service: seven years in education; previously assistant principal and middle school teacher at St. Rose of Lima

What are you looking forward to this year?
“I’m looking forward to continuing our expeditionary learning (a partnership with a network of schools across the country). We started that partnership four years ago. It’s helped me take my professional career to the next level.”


Marc NestorickName: Marc Nestorick
School: Bishop Machebeuf High School
Education: master’s in educational leadership from Western New Mexico University, bachelor’s in history and secondary education from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Service: principal for 17 years; previously principal of Kendallvue Elementary and O’Connell Middle School in Golden, principal of Mark Hopkins Elementary in Littleton, principal of Gallup-McKinley County Schools in New Mexico, teacher at Gallup, N.M. schools, teacher at St. Bonaventure Mission School in New Mexico

What are your goals this year?
“The areas we’re focusing on are 1) To continue building a strong Catholic identify and faith formation at the school 2) To strengthen the academics and bring an instructional background. 3) To work on building a strong community at the school through the athletic program.”


COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.