PORTLAND — The Rev. George E. Collins will step down as president of Cheverus High School on June 30.
Collins has headed the Catholic co-educational school for the past 18 months, but now feels called to return to pastoral spiritual ministry, Cheverus announced in a Jan. 19 press release.
The board of trustees has tapped the Rev. Robert J. Pecoraro to serve as interim president while it conducts a national search for a permanent successor. Pecoraro currently serves as a member of the spiritual formation team at Christ the King Seminary for the Diocese of Buffalo.
He is also a member of the Jesuit community at Canisius College, one of 28 Jesuit colleges in the nation, and performs pastoral work for campus ministry at Canisius. Previously Pecoraro served as president of Xavier High School in Chuuk, Micronesia.
In a letter to the Cheverus community, Collins said, “Serving as president of Cheverus High School for the past eighteen months has been a singular honor for me. (However) my deepest passion or vocation has always been for … doing retreat work, spiritual direction, sacramental ministry, preaching, and the giving of the Spiritual Exercises. Simply put, I long to do more explicitly priestly ministry.”
Edward Haley, chairman of the board at Cheverus, said Collins has provided “effective leadership” during his tenure as head of the school. Part of his work in the last year has been a successful search for key senior leaders, Haley added.
In addition, Haley said that Collins has “developed many strong relationships with our faculty, students, alumni and members of the local community. We will all miss his presence at Cheverus, but understand and appreciate his call to serve others.”
The Very Rev. John J. Cecero, provincial of the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus, which sponsors Cheverus, also commended Collins.
“As president, Fr. Collins continued to foster Cheverus High School’s strong mission and commitment to service to the church and the greater Portland community,” he said. “Fr. Collins has emulated the Jesuit commitment to the ministry of education in his strategic work with the board of trustees, the administration and the faculty to provide a program that fosters the development of each student’s potential and achievement, and their relationship with God.”
Cheverus has an enrollment of approximately 430 students, according to the school’s website.