Schools’ office names distinguished principal, pastor, and teacher of year

Dr. Noreen Dillon is congratulated by students at St. Mark School in Peoria on Principal Appreciation Day after learning that she had been named Distinguished Principal of the Year by the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools. Also recognized were Msgr. Mark Merdian, pastor of St. Pius X School in Rock Island, as Distinguished Pastor of the Year, and James Taber, longtime science teacher at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, as Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

In the season of thanksgiving, the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Peoria is recognizing three people who have given many years of service to Catholic schools. They are Msgr. Mark Merdian, pastor of St. Pius X School in Rock Island, Distinguished Pastor of the Year; Dr. Noreen Dillon of St. Mark School in Peoria, Distinguished Principal of the Year; and James Taber of Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

All three will be honored at a Mass and luncheon with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and school pastors, chaplains and principals on May 13, according to Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools.

The Distinguished Pastor of the Year Award is given to a school pastor or chaplain who has demonstrated outstanding support of Catholic education. Msgr. Merdian has been the pastor of faith communities with Catholic schools at St. Mary in Metamora, St. Matthew in Champaign, and Peoria Notre Dame High School, where he served as president from 2012 to 2014. He has been pastor of St. Pius X in Rock Island, which includes Jordan Catholic School, since 2014.

In writing to Dillon, Weiss said, “We are most grateful for the skill, passion, love, and dedication that you have given to the students, faculty, staff, parents/guardians, alumni and other stakeholders of St. Mark School.”

Dillon has been principal at St. Mark since 2013 and is the second person there in as many years to be honored by the Diocese of Peoria. Last year, Msgr. Brian Brownsey was named Distinguished Pastor of the Year.

Taber has taught science at Central Catholic for more than 30 years. In 2015, the James Taber Endowment Fund for Science Education was established at the Bloomington school for his life commitment to teaching.

Profiles of Msgr. Merdian, Dillon and Taber will run in the Catholic Schools Week section of The Catholic Post on Feb. 2.

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