So said Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau at the farewell Mass for Claudette Rolle, the outgoing director of Catholic education.
Showing gratitude and appreciation in the context of the Eucharist “is most fitting, since the Eucharist is our preeminent celebration of thanksgiving,” said Archbishop Pinder according to a report from The Nassau Guardian.
During the Mass at St Francis Xavier Cathedral, the Archbishop said he endeavoured to make certain that there be no doubt that the archdiocese is grateful for Rolle’s service and vocation as director of Catholic education.
Archbishop Pinder said he clearly remembers the process of finding the successor for Sister Mary Benedict Pratt, the then-superintendent of Catholic schools that led to Rolle eventually becoming the first lay person in the role.
He spoke of the late Archbishop Lawrence Burke having given him the task to chair the search committee – and of the number of “qualified and able candidates” who had applied and interviewed, but of whom somehow, the committee was not fully satisfied.
Rolle, then the curriculum director for the school system, had intended to take leave to pursue doctoral studies. She had not applied for the vacant post, initially.
Archbishop Pinder said the committee asked him to speak with Rolle in person and invite her to apply.
He spoke with her; Rolle applied.
She was selected the first lay head of the Catholic school system.
“It was a wise selection as borne out by time and experience over these years of her leadership of our schools,” said the Archbishop.
“Working with people, especially with many persons and personality types, is not easy. Yet that is precisely what our director had to do, and on a daily basis.”
A principle in Catholic social teaching known as the ‘Principle of Subsidiarity’ in essence means that decisions and problem solving should take place at the lowest level of the organisations, where such decisions and resolutions can properly take place. However, the Archbishop said that is not the way many people think. He said for the slightest problem, they go straight to the archbishop. To try to apply the Principle of Subsidiarity, he told Rolle to keep her constituents out of his constituency.
“This was simply a reference to applying the Principle of Subsidiarity. She did well at it,” he mentioned.
Archbishop Pinder said Rolle accumulated many achievements during her years as director of the Catholic school system. And that for him, perhaps the most significant among them was what he called the “right-sizing” of their school system.
“We now have a system which is sustainable, viable, and future-oriented. This was not possible without changes being made and difficult decisions taken.”
The Archbishop said for all that Rolle accomplished and has been able to achieve in the name of the Archdiocese, he offered her thanks.
“In the course of these years, which now seem to have rushed by too quickly, surely our director had to face challenges which were many and varied. There were times when she would share some of those challenges with me. Thankfully, she never made reference to the day when I came and asked her to apply for the job. No, she never once told me, ‘You got me into this calamity’,” the Archbishop said.
The Archbishop said he always sought to assure Rolle that despite the confusion and complexity and distractions and disappointments, that she had to remember and never forget that her job was to “drain the swamp even though she was up to her neck in alligators”.