Michael Deegan, who has served as deputy superintendent of schools for the archdiocese since 2013, will serve as interim superintendent until the search is completed and a new superintendent has been installed.
In the coming months, Cardinal Dolan will name a new superintendent following the retirement of Dr. Timothy J. McNiff after more than a decade of service.
Deegan said in an interview with CNY in his office at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan on April 3, “Our Catholic schools exist for one reason, and that is to pass on the faith to the next generation of children. I see our job as making sure that not only do they get to college, but they get to heaven.”
He also considers his responsibility, along with the staff, principals, teachers and parents, “to honor and to protect, to advance and to grow, the influence and the impact our Catholic schools have on our children and on society.”
An authentically Catholic school must be academically excellent as well, he said. “And we’re very proud of our history, and the accomplishments of the students who we have taught for generations.”
He said he is “truly humbled” to serve as interim superintendent. “I’m surrounded by the best and the brightest, so our schools are in very good hands because of that.”
He applauded the academic success in Catholic schools across the archdiocese. “I take for granted that our kids are hardworking, they’re committed, and they’re dedicated to achieving. The reason I know that is that we have got the best New York state test scores,” he said, “compared to our charter schools, our public schools and even state scores. We’re very proud of that.
“I would just thank them for their diligence and their hard work, with an expectation that it will continue.”
Deegan cited three priorities, including advancing the strategic planning process of Pathways to Excellence II, as the first year of its implementation comes to a close. “We have quite a ways to go, but we have a roadmap of what we need to do,” he said.
A second priority “is to affirm the invaluable role that our pastors and our priests play in Catholic education, for Catholic schools will never survive without the engagement of our pastors and priests.”
The third goal “is to express my gratitude to our principals and our teachers who make countless sacrifices on behalf of our Catholic schools. They need to be honored, they need to respected, and they need to be acknowledged for the transformational work that they do, day after day.”
Continuing to adhere to Catholic identity is integral to the success of the schools, he said. “We have to ensure that our schools’ Catholic culture, Catholic ethos and Catholic doctrine permeates every single thing that we do in every school, by everyone—from the principal and pastor to the maintenance man and the janitor.”
In 2004, Cardinal Edward Egan appointed Deegan director of Inner City Schools to work with the 122 elementary and secondary inner-schools of the archdiocese.
He was headmaster of Iona Grammar School, New Rochelle, 1991-1994, and taught there, 1975-1978. In Manhattan he served as principal of St. Jude School, 1994-2004 and 1988-1991, and St. Francis Xavier, 1985-1988. Also in Manhattan, he taught at Sacred Heart School, 1982-1985, and Power Memorial Academy, 1978-1982.
His wife Angela is principal of St. Francis Xavier School, the Bronx.
Deegan is a product of Catholic schools. An alumnus of St. Philip Neri School, the Bronx, he graduated from Rice High School in Harlem in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and theology from Iona College, New Rochelle, and a master’s in science education in special education from the College of New Rochelle. He also completed post-graduate work in educational administration from Manhattan College and Fordham University.