Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hershey Principal to Receive National Educational Award

The Diocese of Harrisburg, in partnership with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is pleased to announce that Sister Eileen McGowan, D.M., principal of St. Joan of Arc School in Hershey, has been named a recipient of the 2022 Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award. This award highlights the outstanding work of Catholic school educators in communities across the country and recognizes the “outstanding efforts, contributions, and achievements on behalf of Catholic school education,” according to NCEA’s website. In addition to Sister Eileen, 12 other honorees will be recognized during the NCEA 2022 Convention that will take place on Monday, April 18, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

Helen Remington, computer technology/STEM/PE instructor at the school, nominated Sister McGowan.

“This is a great honor for Sister Eileen, for Saint Joan of Arc, and for the Diocese. To be among five principals honored, this recognition is well deserved,” said Most Rev. Ronald Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg. “Sister Eileen is extremely dedicated to Catholic Education and to passing on the Catholic faith to our future generations. Her leadership and commitment, especially in recent years of maintaining safe, in-person learning during COVID, are a testament to her love for Catholic schools and her outstanding commitment to our students and their families. Well done and congratulations Sister.”

“Sister Eileen is truly the “heart” of our school and her many years of service as our Principal and her total commitment to Catholic Education is recognized in this prestigious award.  My wish is that every Catholic school in the country could have such a devoted principal!” said Rev. Alfred Sceski, pastor of Saint Joan of Arc Parish.

“The religious in our schools do so much. Sister Eileen is not only committed to Catholic education, but she also led one of the largest parochial schools in our Diocese through the challenges associated with COVID, while at the same time moving into a new school facility,” said Daniel Breen, Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese. “Sister is a dedicated educator, whose love for the Gospel and love for the students entrusted to her care is evident in all that she does.”

“Sister Eileen truly excels in all of the 20 criteria for the NCEA Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award, but what I find most inspiring is to think of all of the students, teachers, parents, and community members that have been positively affected by Sister Eileen’s leadership, faith, and kindness throughout her 35 years of service to the St. Joan of Arc School Family,” said Remington. “That legacy of imparting our Catholic faith with mercy, love, and a commitment to excellence is a beautiful gift that so many of us have experienced and received under Sister Eileen’s leadership and guidance.”

“This award came as a big surprise to me!  I didn’t even know I was nominated.  It is humbling to receive this award because I believe “it takes a village.”  I would not be the recipient of this award if it were not for the Daughters of Mercy who prepared me to minister at Saint Joan of Arc, and the Saint Joan of Arc Family whose love, enthusiasm and inspiration enabled me to Lead. Learn. Proclaim,” said Sister McGowan.

Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School, a PreK through eighth-grade school, is located just outside of Hershey in Hummelstown and has been forming hearts, informing minds, and transforming lives since 1927. The school has been under the direction of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy for more than 90 years. In the summer of 2020, the school moved to a new building to accommodate current and future growth. Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School has just under 500 students, making it one of the largest Catholic schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

More information on Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School can be found at To learn more about the NCEA, please visit

The schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg enroll nearly 10,000 students and they continue to be recognized for their rigorous academic education while providing moral and faith formation according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. To learn more about Catholic education in the Diocese of Harrisburg, visit

By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness

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