Hundreds of middle school students made their way to the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses on Jan. 27 and 28, respectively, for Mass, a campus tour, and pizza delivered straight from the University kitchen. For the fourth year in a row, they celebrated National Catholic Schools Week at Fordham, thanks to the Graduate School of Education, its Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education, and generous support from alumna Christine Fiorella-Russo, GSE ’59; her spouse Victor D. Russo; and her brother Anthony J. Fiorella.  

“This is a way for Fordham to celebrate the theme of this year’s National Catholic Schools Week, Catholic Schools: Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed, encompassing the core values that can be found in the schools of the Archdiocese,” said Gerald M. Cattaro, Ed.D., director of the Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education

For many of the approximately 800 children from 19 different Catholic schools across New York City, it was also an opportunity to see a college campus for the first time. 

“By giving them the opportunity to visit classrooms, see college students in classes, and walk the same paths as college students, we hope to inspire these visiting students to reach higher in their academic choices and study habits,” said Virginia Roach, Ed.D., dean of GSE. “We want to show children, especially those who could be first-generation college-bound students, that there are pathways to realize their dreams of a college education.”

A man wearing white priestly garb stands at a podium.
Father O’Keefe

Shortly before 10 a.m. last Monday, students started to arrive at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, located across the street from Fordham College at Lincoln Center. For the next hour, they sat in the wooden pews and attended morning Mass. They sang hymns like “Here I Am, Lord” and “City of God,” led by choir singer t’Jacques Guillot, a Fordham College at Rose Hill senior, and Timothy Perron, a Fordham Jesuit scholastic and pianist. At the beginning of Mass, they were reminded of one of Fordham’s guiding tenets: 

“At Fordham, we’re committed to the idea of cura personalis. That’s Latin for caring for the individual. We really care deeply about you and supporting you today, tomorrow, and after you graduate,” Anthony P. Cavanna, Ed.D., associate dean for academic affairs at GSE, said to the students. “No matter what college or high school or university you finally choose, you map out cura personalis. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and God bless you.”

Presiding over Mass was Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J., a scholar in residence at GSE and the first provincial of the newly created USA East Province of the Society of Jesus. He urged the students and teachers to continue to care for one another in “one family of faith and goodness and hope.” 

Today, he said, they were celebrating the feast of Saint Angela Merici—a religious educator who was dedicated to the education of girls. 

“When Catholic schools only taught boys, she said Catholic schools should educate girls, too. Girls, you think that’s a good idea?” he said to applause. “Absolutely … so we gather to celebrate Catholic schools and remember the heroes of Catholic schools like Angela Merici.” 

Mass at Church of St. Paul the Apostle

After Mass, the students split into two groups. Half of them toured the Lincoln Center campus; the other dined on pizza in Pope Auditorium with Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. 

For Isabella Marina Martinez, an eighth-grader at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Washington Heights, it was her first time at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. This past spring, she visited her cousin, Xienna Dejesus, a student at Fordham College at Rose Hill, at the Bronx campus.

“I’ve seen it in pictures, and I wanted to see it [in person], so she took me one day,” said Martinez, who said she’s considering a future as a lawyer—and keeping an eye on the Fordham School of Law.  “It would be cool to come here.” 

For half an hour, Martinez and her classmates explored the Lincoln Center campus, including Hughes Hall. It was Matthew Capellan’s first time seeing a trading room with Bloomberg terminals. It was also a special experience for his classmate, Manuel Ramirez. 

“The part that I found most interesting about the tour today was the business room—how they had all the stocks going around on the screens and how every computer is updated to the most recent stocks,” said Ramirez, who lives in Morris Heights and wants to become a biologist. 

Nisha Reyes, an eighth-grader who wants to study business or law, said she was struck by the number of student clubs and overall diversity. 

“Everyone’s so different, but they come together in such a special way at Fordham,” Reyes said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can still come together; everyone can be part of a family at Fordham.” 


Taylor is a visual storytelling strategist in Fordham University's marketing and communications department, where she documents University life through photography and video. Since joining Fordham in 2018, she has served as a writer, photographer, videographer, and social media manager, dividing her time between University Marketing and Communications and the Office of the President. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Stony Brook University's School of Communication and Journalism and her master's degree in public media from Fordham University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her work has appeared on NPR, NBC New York, and amNewYork METRO.