Diocese to lose more than a century’s worth of education experience

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — Come June 30, Fall River diocesan schools will say a fond farewell to 105 years of education experience when assistant superintendent of curriculum, Dr. Donna Boyle, and assistant superintendent for personnel, Louise B. Kane, complete one “journey” in their lives and embark on another in their retirements.

Boyle has been involved with schools in the Fall River Diocese since 1988, first serving as academic principal at Coyle-Cassidy High School in Taunton, and as assistant superintendent since 2002.

Before that, since 1957, she was a teacher and/or administrator in the Archdiocese of Boston, at Boston College, and in Framingham.

Kane began her diocesan education career in July of 2008 when she became principal of Espirito Santo School in Fall River, until she was named assistant superintendent beginning July 1, 2013, by then-Bishop George W. Coleman and diocesan superintendent of schools, Dr. Michael S. Griffin.

Kane’s journey in education began in 1970, teaching in public and parochial schools in New Jersey and Virginia until 1988, at which time she taught or was principal at schools in Rhode Island, until her arrival in the Fall River Diocese in 2008.

Although they only worked together in tandem as assistant superintendents for three years, the chemistry between the two formed a cohesive bond driven by the mission of evangelization in the Catholic faith, a love of working with school administrators, principals, teachers, employees, and especially the students, the hearts and souls of the diocesan school system.

“This has all been part of a journey,” Boyle recently told The Anchor. “We are stewards leading our students, trying to be creative in how we bring God into their lives and their families; working to make the Catholic faith meaningful in their lives.”

“I was very, very happy as principal at Espirito Santo,” Kane told The Anchor. “But when the opportunity arose when Kate Simpson retired,  Donna’s ‘words of wisdom’ encouraged me to apply. I felt God was calling me to  a new challenge.”

Boyle has spent just shy of three decades in the Fall River diocesan school system. “These have been the happiest years of my professional and personal life,” she said. “I was hired by Father Richard Beaulieu and Mike Donly to be academic principal at Coyle-Cassidy High School, and since then my bosses in the Fall River diocesan school system have been mentors and role models of the Catholic faith. And I have to mention Bishop George W. Coleman who was such a great Spiritual director.

“I experienced such great growth working with Bishop Coleman, Father Beaulieu, Mike Donly, George Milot and Mike Griffin. And Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. was very good to us and very supportive with the education task force.

“Along with Kate (Simpson), we came in with a blank sheet and Msgr. John J. Perry and Father Michael K. McManus allowed us to able to do our jobs. They had our backs, even when we failed. Educators are not perfect, but they are faithful.”

Among the many tasks Boyle, Simpson and Kane accomplished was creating a handbook, and later tweaking it along the way, with the current academic and Spiritual standards followed by each diocesan school in the diocese. “When we leave, it will be time for people to look at the standards, adjust them if necessary, and move forward,” said Boyle. “I’m very comfortable with the people we’re leaving this with: Sandra Drummey and Denise M. Peixoto. The department is being upgraded by the people who are taking over. It’s all about mission for them.”

“I’m very confident in the people with whom we send this on its way,” added Kane. “I can’t think of a better way to end my career in education than having worked here.

“Working with the principals was a blessing. They were all so supportive, and were an inspiration in my faith journey that was such a large part of my career in the Fall River Diocese. And the beauty of this diocese is that it is not so large that one can get to know the principals personally and many of the teachers as well.”

Griffin, who himself will be leaving the Diocese of Fall River for the same position as superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. had nothing but praise for his two assistant superintendents.

“Dr. Boyle’s leadership over the past 28 years in the Diocese of Fall River has been outstanding,” he told The Anchor. “Her dedication to Catholic schools has been an inspiration to us all. She has been tireless in her efforts on behalf of the students, faculty and administrators in the Catholic schools of our diocese. Under her leadership, academic standards were developed for all subjects, and 21st-century teaching principles have been strengthened in all our schools.  

“Diocesan academic committees were initiated under Dr. Boyle, as were numerous staff development sessions designed to assist teachers in methodologies at each grade level. At the same time, she has been a genuine role model of the faith and values we teach in our schools. Her service for 17 years as academic principal at Coyle and Cassidy High School, and 11 years as assistant superintendent for academics will long be remembered, and she will be greatly missed in the Fall River Diocese.”

Regarding Kane, he said, “It has been a pleasure to work with Louise Kane over the past three years, following five years as principal of Espirito Santo School in Fall River. As assistant superintendent for personnel, Mrs. Kane has devoted countless hours to advising our school leaders on matters relating to student affairs, personnel school law, and the health and safety of our students.  Her efforts have led to improvements in school policies and practices.  

“Her prayerful Spirit was an example for our school leaders as she regularly led our prayer services for meetings and professional development days. We wish her well in her retirement ahead.”

Boyle and Kane see nothing but good things for the future of Catholic education in the area.

“There was a time when life revolved around the home, the parish and the school, but things have changed over the years,” said Kane. “We have the task to provide students who are not ‘churched’ per se in the home and give them the opportunity to know and develop a relationship with Christ. There will always be Catholic schools. They change through the years, but the values and mission will never change.”

“The leadership at all levels in our diocesan schools is very, very good,” said Boyle, “and good leadership means success. We have changed with the times; developing bullying standards, safety crisis management, fingerprinting employees, and suicide protocols. It’s a very legalistic society, but we will do everything to keep our students happy and safe, and that will continue.”

Boyle plans to move to California and “be a parish volunteer and work with schools perhaps. I’ll see where the Lord is leading me.”

Kane, too, is moving westward, to Arizona. “I too, wish to be active in the parish life and remain proactive. I enjoy working with young people’s literacy, so I’ll see where that takes me.”

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts