Rich Lenz, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa Christian who is being honored for his excellence in education.
There are over 7,000 Catholic schools in the United States and each year, just 8 men receive the "Distinguished Pastor Award" from the National Catholic Education Association. This year for the first time ever, a Tulsan will be one of them.
Monsignor Gregory Gier has a Master's in Education. He has led or taught at, some of the finest Catholic schools in Oklahoma, including Bishop Kelley and Bishop McGuiness high schools, Marquette and for the last 13 years, the Holy Family Cathedral School in downtown Tulsa.
"I want them to sense that this place is every bit as safe and important to them as home and I'm kind of, I guess, the Grandfather," said Monsignor Gregory Gier. "I think that it's very important that they trust me, I think it's important that they respect me, I don't think it's necessarily important that I'm their buddy."
I asked 6th grader Conner Winn, to describe Pastor Geir in one word and it was a doozy.
"I don't know if people know this word- impladitudeness," said Conner Winn. "What is, that's a big word," said Rich Lenz. "Not boring," said Conner Winn.
"Uh, when you get ah, any big word used about you in a positive way from a child his age, it's got to be a compliment," said Monsignor Gregory Gier.
Monsignor Gier receives plenty of compliments from adults too, including Holy Family School Principal Jay Luetkemeyer, who championed Gear's nomination for the N.C.E.A.'s Distinguished Pastor Award.
"I think he is being honored because of his lifetime of work. I have not met someone from a parish that he has been a part of that has not raved about him," said Principal Jay Luetkemeyer.
In fact, Leutkemeyer says many parents who were once taught by Gier, are now willing to switch parishes to ensure their children receive the same kind of attention.
Now Holy Family isn't a big school, just about 130 students, grades Pre-K thru 8th. You can see some of the graduating classes aren't all that large but that allows for a lot of interaction with Monsignor Gier and that's something he really enjoys.
"When I go to confession he helps me a lot," said 8th grader Asia Cremin.
Asia will graduate this year after spending 10 years at a school that prides itself on diversity.
"We have a strong non-Catholic representation here and we have a huge cross-section of socio-economic and racial and everything, I like to call us Tulsa's little U.N.," said Monsignor Gregory Gier.
Pastor Gier will receive his award at the N.C.E.A. Convention next Tuesday in New Orleans. He says he plans to take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage thru the French Quarter while he is there.