From left, John Belcastro, Sr. Mary Kay Camp and Angelo Di Ianni. Photos courtesy Niagara Catholic District School Board

Niagara leaders impacted thousands

By  Catholic Register Staff
  • March 2, 2024

For the first time in five years, the Niagara Catholic District School Board is honouring education leaders with its Award of Distinction.

Three people were endorsed by the board at its Feb. 13 special board meeting — John Belcastro, Sr. Mary Kay Camp and Angelo Di Ianni. The trio will be presented their awards at the Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education Annual Benefit Gala March 21.

“I have been fortunate to have served with all three recipients of the Niagara Catholic Education Award of Distinction during my career at Niagara Catholic, and I can confidently say all three are very worthy of this honour,” said board chair Danny Di Lorenzo. “Each played a very different leadership role within Catholic education in Niagara, and they impacted the lives of thousands and thousands of students over their years of service. Many of these young students have since gone on to do great things in their own fields of study. I believe that the legacies of John Belcastro, Sr. Mary Kay Camp and Angelo Di Ianni will be spoken about for years to come across Niagara.”

Director of education Camillo Cipriano praised the three for giving their lives to Catholic education in Niagara in so many ways.

“When you sit down and you read the things these three recipients have done to enhance and advance Catholic education here and across Ontario, it is truly humbling to know you are a part of that same system,” said Cipriano.

Belcastro is a graduate of Welland, Ont.’s Notre Dame College School and would return to the school as a teacher, vice-principal and finally in 1981 as principal — the first non-clergy to hold the vice-principal and principal role. Save for brief sabbaticals in Kenya in 1965 and then to obtain his masters in 1967, Belcastro’s full career was spent at Notre Dame.

An excellent athlete, he brought that love of sport back to Notre Dame where he coached athletics. He not only coached but nurtured student athletes to become better people through the development of faith and character.

Following his teaching career, Belcastro continued giving back to Catholic education as a school trustee from 2000-10, serving a term as chair of the board.

Camp has been a Catholic education advocate for nearly half a century. The Loretto Sister was principal of Loretto High School and played a key role in transitioning the school to St. Paul Catholic High School. Loretto High School then transformed into the Loretto Christian Life Centre, which offered retreats to youth and adults.

Camp has impacted thousands of lives as a teacher, principal and director of the Diocesan Office of Religious Education. She has been a liaison between the Diocese of St. Catharines, the bishop and the school board and works closely with agencies like the Institute for Catholic Education, the teachers’ union, directors of education and supporting parish ministries.

Di Ianni was the founding director of education of the board and has served in many roles developing a strong Catholic education system, including chair of the English Catholic Council of Directors of Education.

Di Ianni created faith formation programs for teachers, principals and trustees, as well as non-teaching employees and religious education credit programs for employees. Di Ianni also recognized the importance of the home, school and parish partnership in supporting the faith and educational life of students.

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