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'My job is truly a blessing': Belcastro receives Ozanam Medal

Award from Niagara University honours the mission and charity of St. Vincent de Paul
John Belcastro, right, with Niagara University President Rev. James Maher.

John Belcastro, principal of the Niagara  CatholicBoard Continuing Education and Alternative Learning programs, received Niagara University’s Ozanam Medal during its annual Vincentian Heritage Week celebrations.

Belcastro received his award during the university’s convocation in the Alumni Chapel Sept. 28. The Ozanam Medal is one of four awards presented during this event and is given in to individuals who exemplify the mission and charity of its patron saint, St. Vincent de Paul.

In its newsletter spotlighting the 2023 honourees, Niagara University noted that Belcastro is a graduate of Notre Dame College School in Welland, ultimately returning there after a short stint teaching in Bowmanville. Prior to assuming his leadership role at the Niagara Catholic virtual secondary school during the COVID shutdown, Belcastro was vice-principal at Saint Michael Catholic High School, Saint Paul Catholic High School, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, and Notre Dame College School.

In his current assignment, Belcastro oversees Niagara Catholic’s Continuing Education program, as well as the Board’s Pope Francis Alternative Learning Centre, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha elementary and secondary schools for Indigenous students and the Board’s Soaring Eagles program. 

 “I am very honoured to be just considered for such a prestigious award and this is a reflection of the great work of my colleagues in the Niagara Catholic Continuing Education and Alternative Learning programs,” said Belcastro. “While many days are challenging, these are far outweighed by the reward of helping others. In the words of St. Vincent de Paul, 'We must love our neighbour as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.' For me, my job is truly a blessing, for in each student that approaches our programs for assistance I see the face of Christ and I am able to help each one through the grace of God.”

Niagara Catholic Director of Education Camillo Cipriano said Niagara University made an excellent choice in selecting Belcastro for the Ozanam Medal.

“John Belcastro is an outstanding administrator and example of our calling as Catholic educators to encounter souls and open minds each and every day,” said Cipriano.