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Faith formation director wins NCEA award

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — Jim Osterberger, director of faith formation and education for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, is being recognized for his distinguished record of service to Catholic education.

In January, the National Catholic Edu­cation Association named Osterberger one of several dozen professionals from around the nation recognized through the Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award. The ­honor highlights people for their outstanding contributions to Catholic education.   

“As a recipient of the NCEA Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award I feel both humbled and awed,” said Osterberger in a statement to The Witness. “I am humbled in the sense that my 47 years working in Catholic edu­ca­tion have been such a tremendous gift to me both personally and professionally. Awed in the sense that I and all currently involved in education and formation stand on the ‘shoulders of greatness.’”

Osterberger’s nomination was put forth and supported by colleagues in the field. He paid homage to these people and the other great educators of the past.

“We have all been blessed with the gifts of vision, dedication, and a ‘can do’ attitude of the countless religious and lay persons who dedicated themselves to Catholic education in the archdiocese,” he said. “Personally I agreed to participate in this award in the name of all those who have been and are currently part of the education and formation programs of the archdiocese.”

As part of the nomination process, people who have worked with Osterberger throughout the years submitted references. Some pointed out his effort to put new tools at the disposal of educators.

“For several decades (Osterberger) has been among the most visible proponents of promoting the use of technology in Catholic schools,” wrote Jan Avery, lead teacher at Newman Catholic School in Mason City in a letter to the selection committee for the award. “His influential leadership has helped advance the use of technology at Newman Catholic School. He has  been out front not only in the way he has led the schools in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, but also across the nation.”

Osterberger also has a history of working with people in both church and secular organizations to better education.

“Jim is not only well-respected in the education systems in the community and throughout the archdiocese, but also regarded as a long-time professional in our community who is committed to Catholic education and most importantly, caring for others,” wrote Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist for the City of Dubuque in her recommendation letter.

Corrigan worked with Osterberger on the Dubuque County Early Childhood Education Board from 2003 through 2016. Alluding to his leadership and passion for living out the Gospel, one reference described Osterberger’s positive effect on her life.

“Through his (Osterberger’s) continued support, I have grown as a leader and as a person,” asserted Mindy Hart, associate director of education for the archdiocese, in her recommendation.

Osterberger will receive the award at a ceremony scheduled for April 18 at the 2017 NCEA Convention and Expo in St. Louis, Missouri.