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In praise of Catholic education

Women’s group honors Archbishop McCarthy principal, raises funds for girls’ scholarships

Mary Weber, chair of the MACCW Scholarship Committee, poses with Richard Jean, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School principal, after presenting him him with an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus.  Jean was this year's honoree as someone who has

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Mary Weber, chair of the MACCW Scholarship Committee, poses with Richard Jean, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School principal, after presenting him him with an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus. Jean was this year's honoree as someone who has "made a difference" in Catholic education.

FORT LAUDERDALE | Amanda Cadigan, an All Saints School eighth grader in 2010, was one of four Catholic school girls who received a scholarship of about $5,000 that year to help her continue her education in a Catholic high school. The scholarship came from the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.

“Although it’s not enough to cover the four years of high school, once the girls get their foot in the door there’s a better chance of them getting financial aid,” said Mary Weber, chair of the MACCW’s scholarship committee, during the group’s 19th annual scholarship luncheon Feb. 24.

The group has awarded 57 scholarships totaling $248,000 since the MACCW board established the fund in 1996. The scholarship is named in memory of Lucy Petrillo, founding member and longtime chair of the scholarship committee.

Scholarship donations come from a number of sources, including the annual fundraising luncheon.

Each year, scholarship applications are sent out to principals of Catholic elementary schools with an eighth grade. Girls who apply are asked to write a 500-word essay on what a Catholic education means to them. The completed applications must contain a recommendation from the girl’s principal and be signed by her pastor. The MACCW scholarship committee judges the completed applications and then chooses three or four recipients, based on need, academics and character.

Although Cadigan wasn’t able to attend this year’s luncheon, she thanked the MACCW women in a letter read by Tryphena Bethel Jean, wife of this year’s luncheon honoree, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School Principal Richard Jean.

Those who have made a difference in Catholic education are chosen as honorees, said Weber.

Richard Jean, principal of Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School, addresses members of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women and supporters at their annual scholarship luncheon.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Richard Jean, principal of Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School, addresses members of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women and supporters at their annual scholarship luncheon.

Both Cadigan and Jean arrived at the Southwest Ranches school in 2010.

“I can honestly say that I grew personally, spiritually, and academically because of Mr. Jean,” Cadigan wrote. “He was an innovator, mentor and leader. Because of Mr. Jean, McCarthy High School is recognized as one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the country.”

McCarthy became the first ever Apple Distinguished School in South Florida with a one to one iPad program.

“Mr. Jean is the leader who spearheaded us to the top,” wrote Cadigan. “He challenged his students to be firm in our faith and to grow closer to God.”

Cadigan is now a senior at Florida State University who will graduate with honors (magna cum laude) in May, with degrees in sociology and political science. She said she owes a lot of her success to the education that she received at McCarthy High School.

“McCarthy’s motto is to abide in the love of Christ. These words have stuck with me over the years and I have witnessed how Mr. Jean has incorporated it into everything at the high school. Mr. Jean makes me proud to be a Maverick,” Cadigan wrote.

Jean arrived in Miami in 1975 from Haiti with his mother and three siblings. He was five years old and didn’t speak English. His mother made sure that her children went to Catholic school and church. Jean enrolled in St. Mary Cathedral School in Miami.

“In 1975 there weren’t many Haitian children in school and there wasn’t ESOL,” said Jean, referring to English-as-a-second-language classes. “But there was Sister Agatha. She didn’t speak Creole or French. She had an affinity for the few Haitian kids in school. It was always interesting to hear her trying to communicate with us. She devoted a lot of extra time to help us learn. We eventually learned to speak English.”

Jean went on to graduate from Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School and received a basketball scholarship to Duquesne University. He received a master’s in Educational Leadership from Barry University and served as principal of St. Francis Xavier School in Overtown (now closed) and St. Timothy School in Miami.

He was dean of students at ACND and Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School in Kendall before becoming principal at McCarthy.

Past honorees at the MACCW luncheon include Ana Garcia in 2016, principal at Msgr. Edward Pace High School, and Douglas Romanik in 2017, former principal at ACND, which merged with Pace at the start of this school year. 

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