Winning ways

Father Scott Connolly receives national award for his efforts

 Fr. Connolly's sister, mother and Fr. Connolly
Father Scott Connolly, pastor of Church of the Assumption in Bellingham, was joined by his sister, Andrea, left, and mother, Marilyn, at the ceremony honoring him as a 2014 Distinguished Pastor. The award was presented during the National Catholic Education Association’s convention in April. Photo: Courtesy Church of the Assumption Parish

By Armando Machado

Father K. Scott Connolly doesn’t just support his parish’s school from the pulpit.

“He gets right in there and participates at the school in so many ways,” said Monica Des Jarlais, principal of Assumption School in Bellingham. Father Connolly donates to school programs, supported efforts to increase the school’s Hispanic enrollment and made the school a priority in the parish’s capital campaign, Des Jarlais said.

“His laugh is contagious; he brings the joy of Christ with him,” she added.

Those words from Des Jarlais’ nomination letter were among the reasons Father Connolly, pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Bellingham, was named a 2014 Distinguished Pastor by the National Catholic Education Association.

Father Connolly was one of seven pastors from around the country who received the award at the NCEA’s April 22-24 convention in Pittsburgh. The pastors were honored for advancing Catholic elementary education “by providing strong spiritual guidance, demonstrating a clear philosophy of Catholic education, and working closely with the school community,” according to a media release.

“There is only one nominee from each diocese, so I was honored in the first place just to be nominated from the Seattle Archdiocese,” said Father Connolly, whose mother and sister — a Catholic school teacher from Spokane — attended the awards ceremony.

Nominees for the award must have at least three years of service as a pastor of a parish associated with Catholic elementary education, receive endorsement from their diocesan superintendent, and be approved by the diocesan ordinary/vicar.

Each nominee also must have four letters of recommendation from specific segments of the school community. In addition to Des Jarlais, Father Connolly received recommendations from Betsy Gottschalk, an Assumption teacher; Kelly Jeffrey, a member of the Assumption Church Foundation and past member of the school commission; and Jeffrey Ziels, an Assumption graduate, current parent and active volunteer.

Father Connolly said the honor doesn’t belong just to him. “This award helps our parish and school communities to see themselves as the recipients as well,” he said. “It solidifies our mission ... that we are on the right track.”

Appreciate your pastor

Good Shepherd Sunday is designated as Pastor Appreciation Day by the National Catholic Education Association.

During the week of May 11, the association encourages everyone to find ways to honor and thank their parish priests for supporting Catholic education.

To learn more about nominating a priest for the association’s Distinguished Pastor Award, visit

May 8, 2014