DU grad to head Catholic education

By Kaye Burnet | The Duquesne Duke

Bishop David Zubik appointed Duquesne graduate Michael Latusek Acting Secretary of Education for the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Nov. 6.

Latusek, who earned his doctorate in education from Duquesne, will be replacing Robert Paserba, who is retiring this year.

Formerly, Latusek served as superintendent for all primary and secondary Catholic schools in Pittsburgh. According to Latusek, there is a great deal of overlap between his former position and his promotion, with just a few changes.

“I now cover all aspects of religious education, including CCD programs and working closely with [the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults],” Latusek said.

Latusek said he will continue to cover the role of Superintendent of Catholic Schools, in addition to his new post.

Latusek’s new position carries great weight in the diocese. While Zubik acts as overseer for operations in the diocese, secretaries like Latusek handle the day-to-day decision making.

“The way the diocese works is you have Bishop Zubik, then General Secretary Father Lengwin, then all of the Secretaries for various fields,” Latusek said. “Education is one of them. So I report to Father Lengwin.”

Catholic education is one of the primary concerns of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, according to Latusek. He is responsible for 79 Catholic elementary schools and 11 Catholic high schools in the diocese. The abundance of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh puts a great deal of responsibility and influence into the hands of the Secretary of Education, he said.

“[Catholic education] has a tremendous impact, as far as faith formation and preparing our kids for the future. It also leads many kids to Catholic colleges, such as Duquesne, where they can continue to grow in faith and knowledge,” Latusek said.

The benefits of a Catholic school education are not just for Catholics, either. Latusek explained that there are schools, such as St. Benedict the Moor in the Hill District and Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy, which serve mostly non-Catholic students from urban areas.

As Secretary of Education, Latusek will be responsible for guiding teachers and administrators at these schools in the formation of religious curriculum.

“We provide a great deal of support for the administrators,” Latusek said.

One of those administrators is Rita McCormick, principal of Quigley Catholic High School in Baden, Pa. McCormick said Latusek will work closely with schools and other religious programs within the diocese to spread the Gospel.

“There is no decision made in the diocese regarding Catholic schools, catechesis, or evangelization that is not approved by those three — Bishop Zubik, Fr. Lengwin and the Secretariat of Education,” McCormick said.

McCormick has not yet had the opportunity to work with Latusek, but she has had good experiences with his predecessors.

“The Secretary of Education has always been an incredibly accessible person,” McCormick said. “Very available. I’m sure Dr. Latusek will be similar.”

Latusek and his family are closely tied to Catholic education in Pittsburgh. He sent his three children to Saint Angela Merici Elementary School and Serra Catholic High School. Two graduated from Duquesne University, and one from Villanova. His wife holds a degree in counseling from Duquesne.

McCormick emphasized the importance of Latusek’s role in Pittsburgh’s Catholic community.

“It goes beyond school curriculum. His responsibilities include all programs for instruction and evangelization,” McCormick said. “As secretary, he will be the pulse of Catholic education in the diocese.”