Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - After 27 years as superintendent of schools for the Lincoln Diocese, Msgr. John Perkinton will welcome a new superintendent to take over the position July 9.
Before he was named diocesan superintendent of schools in 1990, Msgr. Perkinton served as assistant superintendent for one year under Msgr. James Dawson, who held the position from 1961 to 1990. Over the years, Msgr. Perkinton had the opportunity to work under three bishops—the late Bishop Glennon P. Flavin, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, and Bishop James D. Conley.
The apostolate requires that the superintendent serve as the delegate of the bishop and is responsible for all aspects of the school day and year such as school policies, instructional programming and the health and safety of all in the school system.
One of Msgr. Perkinton’s favorite aspects of his duties was working with school personnel.
“I’ve enjoyed collaborating with the wonderful people we have in our schools,” he said. “The best part has been meeting wonderful people along the way.”
Despite the fact that there are more than 7,500 students in diocesan schools, Msgr. Perkinton didn’t get to interact with students as much as he would have liked. However, his work has had a more significant impact than the students may ever realize.
“It has been such blessed work for me to see how our students have become formed in the Faith. To advance the Church into the next generation with a solid foundation in their faith, social and academic lives, that’s been a beautiful thing,” Msgr. Perkinton said.
Msgr. Perkinton has also been able to see the way the diocese’s Catholic schools help students find God’s plan for them in their lives.
“There’s something really beautiful about seeing how the schools foster vocations to the priesthood, religious and married life,” he said. “The schools foster disciples in special ways.”
In announcing the change in appointment, Bishop Conley said Msgr. Perkinton “has been a witness of Christian charity, dedicated wholly to the important work of Catholic education. He has invested himself—poured himself out—to form holy administrators, holy teachers, and holy students. Just as Christ calls him, he obeys and teaches the Lord’s commandments.”
While he has held the position for almost three decades, Msgr. Perkinton is loath to claim credit for any of the school systems’ accomplishments.
“If there have been any accomplishments through my work, they’ve been the accomplishments of God with the help of many people, without whose interest Catholic education would not have been achievable,” he said.
Msgr. Perkinton is preparing for the transition to welcome Dr. Matt Hecker as the new superintendent in July. The change in assignment is, in his words, “a part of any person’s life. Change is inevitable and should be embraced as part of God’s plan. Priests are the bridge between God and man. Regardless of where we go, we can do the Lord’s work where we are planted.”
Msgr. Perkinton also has the example of his predecessor to look to during his transition. He said, “Msgr. Dawson had this position much longer than I, and he gracefully moved to his next assignment always with the spiritual good of the faithful in mind. He was a great inspiration to me.”