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Go with God. God Goes with You.

by Isabell Gilfoil

Vickey McBride receiving Pressley Award from John Staud

“Go with God. God goes with you” is a sentiment that sticks with Vickey McBride in more ways than one. 

Through the roles she’s played at Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, Vickey has let her faith and deep commitment to Catholic education lead her as she leads others.

For this commitment to Saint Martin de Porres, where she has served as a teacher, campus minister, and now vice president of mission, since graduating from ACE, McBride was awarded the 2023 Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education. 

Growing up, McBride didn’t know she wanted to go into teaching, but she was always passionate about education. She attended an information session about ACE Teaching Fellows before her senior year at Notre Dame, and she said she was enthralled with what ACE was doing. She became an ACE intern, working in the library at St. Adalbert Catholic School in South Bend, and she committed to teaching in ACE’s 18th cohort.

“Teaching was not something that I knew I wanted to do my entire life, but as soon as I started ACE, I really fell in love,” McBride said. “It’s been a pretty great journey ever since.”

McBride taught world geography in Brownsville, Texas, at St. Joseph Academy, and many of her students crossed the border to attend school. She said she enjoyed the experience of teaching in Brownsville because most of her life had been spent in the Midwest.

“Living on the border of the U.S. and Mexico was a really beautiful experience,” she said. “Everyone was very welcoming. The family life, the social life – you could tell that everybody really loved each other and felt really attached to that place which was beautiful.”

After graduating from ACE, McBride moved to Cleveland and began working at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey high school. She began as a theology teacher and now oversees the staff’s professional development, the school’s faith formation, and guides the school’s Catholic identity and mission. 

One thing from ACE that McBride tries to instill in her students is the pillar of spirituality. While in ACE, McBride said that daily Mass with her housemates was a key part of her experience.

“In my first year, when I was feeling so nervous all of the time and did not know what the next day was going to hold, [daily Mass] always started my day with a level of peace,” she said. “I started the days putting myself in God’s hands. I didn’t have to be perfect. I didn’t have to know everything, but with God, I would make it through the days.”

McBride says that this continues to be true at Saint Martin de Porres.

“I didn’t fight to go back to the social studies department. I didn’t want to teach anything else but Theology and Sacraments and Morality, because I really think that having a spiritual foundation or spiritual touchpoint, it can get you through so much.”

McBride has continued to support her school and students over the past 10 years, remaining a consistent figure in her students’ lives and in her school community.

“I feel really devoted to Saint Martin,” she said. “I really love the school. I love the mission of Cristo Rey in particular, and I love our students and their families and my colleagues. We get to work in a really beautiful community. We have a lot of hardships, but I feel called to be there because I know that it’s good for the students and it’s good for all students to have consistency and steadiness and just reliable love.”

When accepting the award during ACE’s commencement weekend, McBride shared how ACE’s mission impacted the trajectory of her life. She spoke about how she embraced all three pillars of ACE, but she experienced an additional pillar – joy. 

“Joy was woven into every part of the program,” she said. “My Brownsville community was deeply committed to joy. I found deep joy encountering God in new ways as I watched Matachines dances on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At Saint Martin de Porres, I support my colleagues by offering formation opportunities that help them find joy amidst the many day-to-day responsibilities.”

As McBride followed God’s path for her through ACE Teaching Fellows to teaching at Saint Martin de Porres, God has continued to follow her and spread joy through her newest role and her deep commitment to her school and Catholic faith. 

“I feel equipped to do this because of the formation I received during my two years in ACE,” she said. “Being an educator is a serious job, but thanks to ACE, I know that it is a deeply blessed and joyful one as well.”

Two awards are given annually to ACE graduates who have distinguished themselves in making significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic education. Dominic Fanelli, principal of Benedictine High School in Cleveland and fellow ACE 18 member, also won the award for 2023.

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