TEMPE — After 26 years as principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Dr. Vincent Sheridan is retiring.
He began his career in Catholic education in 1972 at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School as a social studies teacher and baseball coach. After five years at the Chandler school, he became vice principal of Gerard Catholic High School in Phoenix.
Gerard shut its doors in 1989, but the memories live on. Sheridan spent 12 years there, patrolling the campus at lunchtime, and frequently seen chomping a cigar. “I’ll see you in my office,” was a phrase he was famous for among students.
Sheridan credits the late Fr. John Hanley, who served as principal of Gerard, for teaching him some valuable lessons about leading a school by being an active, visible presence.
“He did the lunch room,” Sheridan said. “And when he did the lunchroom, he had me walk that campus. You have to get out, get around, see the kids.”
Upon becoming principal of OLMC in 1989, Sheridan began supervising the lunchroom, where he became known for cracking a few jokes. The twinkling eyes and New York accent are part of the charm and both parents and students seem to love it.
“You got to have a sense of humor with kids. You got to have fun with them,” Sheridan said. “Otherwise, if I’m not happy, what does that say about my faith and everything else?”
Sheila Broglia is well-acquainted with the retiring principal’s sense of humor. She remembers getting to know Sheridan when he was an administrator at Gerard. All five of her children have attended OLMC during the last 17 years.
“He would tell my kids, ‘Your mom was so bad in high school. She was always getting into trouble.’ He was just teasing them and they’d laugh,” Broglia said. “He’d refer to that a lot, saying ‘Here comes trouble.’ It was a nice sense of familiarity, but of course, you could appreciate him a lot more as an adult than as a kid.”
In reflecting on what his legacy is, Sheridan pointed to the influence of the Catholic faith.
“Particularly with an elementary school, it’s part of the mission of the parish, the formation in faith. It’s part of that holistic view the Church has, working with the parish to instill Catholic values in the children,” Sheridan said. “At each school that I’ve been at — Seton, Gerard and here at Mount Carmel — I’ve had at least one student ordained a priest.”
Fr. John Bonavitacola, pastor of OLMC Parish offered his own view of Sheridan’s legacy to the school.
“I have worked with Dr. Sheridan for the past 15 years and he is as close to a good old fashioned nun as I could get,” Fr. Bonavitacola said. “His Catholicism permeates everything he does and his greatest legacy is that he is leaving us with a truly Catholic School in our teaching, service and worship. While it is hard to measure the impact he has had on thousands of students during his career, I know he treated each and every student with respect, kindness and love.”
In 2013, Sheridan was awarded the “Guardian of Hope” educator’s award at the annual Night of Hope gala benefiting Catholic schools throughout the diocese.