» Why a Genesee County Catholic School System?

Members of the Catholic Community:

Occasionally we allow the challenges and demands of everyday life, our ambitions and goals, and even our successes and disappointments to distract us from a larger perspective and view of life. When our perspective becomes too small, our sense of purpose can become muted, and we can
easily forget that everything – each breath, each day, and each and every life situation is a blessing, and for those who are paying attention, an opportunity to recognize that God loves us and is constantly present and accessible to us.

Understanding that gratitude is a fundamental of mere civility, it is most disappointing to realize that at times I have allowed the events of my finite life to get in the way of expressing gratitude to the eternal source of all blessings. With a prayer life so often skewed toward matters of my urgency, I have often had to ask forgiveness for the lack of gratitude I reveal in poorly balancing my petitions with prayers of thanksgiving, contrition and adoration.

Thankfully, no matter how distracted we may become by the false sense of urgency so prevalent in modern life, it is virtually impossible for any of us to escape the gravitational pull of a Creator who has blessed each of us in so many ways. In my case, there is no area where the presence of God, His goodness and purpose been more evident than in my family and my family’s tradition of faith and education.

I was so fortunate to have parents who lived the priorities of Faith, Family and Education. Betty and Bill Haley both grew up in the Flint St. Michael Parish community which, in their generation meant they attended the parish school. As a result of their formation at home and St. Michaels, they developed a strong sustaining faith, many lifelong friendships, and an eternal bond with their fellow St. Michael School alums. As much as anything they could provide my parents wanted to share that same experience with me, my two brothers and two sisters as we grew up in the Flint St. Agnes Parish. In turn, my wife Carol and I wanted that same experience of an education that included faith formation for our two sons at St. Robert School and Powers Catholic.

In each case, choosing Catholic education was not some sort of competitive choice among the various options. It didn’t have anything to do with costs or facilities or exclusivity, and bore absolutely no connection to the quality of public education being provided in our community. In choosing Catholic education, my parents were establishing a wonderful tradition that brought convergence to their priorities – Faith, Family, and Education.

During my youth, mission statements evidently had not yet been invented, but simply put, my parents sacrificed whatever it took to place us in St. Agnes School - the only school that could lawfully assist them in the education of their children and our formation in the faith. Attending St. Agnes School was a priceless gift that I will always cherish.

Presently, I have been asked to take on a role in assisting with the creation of a new structure for Catholic Education in Genesee County – this very important effort initiated by the county pastors, calls for a new model for providing an effective, sustainable system of Catholic Schools based on working together in new, innovative and collaborative ways.

Just as my parents, I intend to respond and do whatever I possibly can to assist this effort which has the promise of both strengthening the belief in our Catholic Schools, as well as increasing access to this opportunity for all Catholic families.

Thomas Groome, the Head of the Department of Religious Education at Boston College, has observed that during their inception in the 19th century, Catholic Schools were,”…..a bold vision of Bishops, pastors, religious orders and sacrifices made by immigrant peoples who found in their Catholic schools comfort from a new and sometimes hostile culture and, at the same time, the opportunity for their children to participate more fully in American society.”

I would propose that today, our children continue to need both comfort from and perspective about our current culture, a culture that at times can be hostile to their Faith. Additionally, all children need to be strengthened, not to just participate more fully, but to lead in the formation of American society.

Please pray for the success of this initiative by our county’s pastors and offer any assistance you can to the pastors, educators, parents, and community members who are working and making sacrifices to assist in this important effort.

In so doing, may we all honor those who sacrificed to establish the Catholic School tradition, and serve the purpose of our Creator – to be instruments of His peace.

Bill Haley,

Executive Director, GCCS

Biographical Thumbnail

  • Married for 25 years to Carol Haley (Holy Family Alum)
    • Two children
      • Andrew – St. Robert School / Powers Catholic / Notre Dame 2012
      • Matthew – St. Robert School / Powers Catholic / University of Dayton 2014
  • Graduated from St. Agnes School 1970 / Cornell University 1974
  • Teacher and principal at St. Robert School
  • Coach at Powers Catholic
  • Administrator in Flushing Community Schools / Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools
  • E-mail: bhaley@powerscatholic.org