A true gem of a teacher was unceremoniously and unjustly kicked to the curb because of his views on gay marriage Monday.
You might have heard of it by now – Mike Moroski, the assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School was relieved of his duties by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati because he voiced his support of gay marriage on his personal website.
When the archdiocese saw the post, they gave Moroski an ultimatum; take down the post or be fired.
Moroski held his ground and was let go.
“If I take that post down I would not be able to look at the thousands of former students and families with whom I have worked for 12 years in the eye,” he said on his blog. “I have tried my hardest … to instill the values of resilience in the face of pressure, public acts of justice and patient decision making in every student.”
As a Catholic, I understand why the archdiocese made the decision it did. I also understand that Catholic schools – because they are private – have a lot of latitude over who they can hire and fire, but the archdiocese’s choice will do nothing but hurt the students at Purcell Marian and undermine the Catholic mission it tries to teach its students.
Before attending Ohio State, I attended Catholic school for 13 years – the last four years at Archbishop Moeller High School. It’s a heritage I’m deeply proud of and one I believe has taught me more than I will probably ever realize.
It was at Moeller that I encountered Moroski, the long-haired, bearded teacher of my junior English class.
For those of us who have the privilege to go to school long enough, we typically go from teacher to teacher without much thought or consequence, and as soon as we receive the final grade on our report card, the impact of that teacher is finished.
The end result is a blurry mosaic of our academic experiences which hopefully culminates in a degree or diploma that leads to a successful future.
But, like anything, there are standouts – there will always be a few teachers who meant a little bit more and who had a bigger impact on your life than what he or she did to your GPA.
Mike Moroski was one of the special ones.
He was hands down one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and not just because he orchestrated an engaging and informative class in a light-hearted manner.
I admired and still do admire Moroski for who he is as a person. While at Moeller, he ran a program called MACH 1, which helps rehabilitate buildings in a poor area called Over the Rhine in downtown Cincinnati to provide affordable housing for low or no income families.
He also helped found something called Choices Cafe, a nonprofit organization that helps raise money for affordable housing, in the same area.
These programs, their ideologies and the morals associated with them were not jammed down our throat in class. They were simply presented to us, and the 20 to 30 teenagers sitting in the class were left to make their own judgments.
Personally, I did not participate in these programs (I was involved in a few other service organizations that better fit my schedule), but I knew many who did and I knew the impact it had on them and the school.
Simply put, Moeller was a better place with Moroski in it.
Though he taught English, he also was an example of how to be a better person and provided an environment to follow that example.
The Catholic Church teaches that there are two necessities to live a holy life.
The first is faith and the second is good works. The latter is not a common belief with Christian religions, but it’s one the Catholic Church (I think rightly) holds dear.
No teacher in my life has done a better job of helping students be better people in their faith and actions than Mike Moroski. His uncanny likability which resonates with everyone from the jocks to the nerds amplified his positive effect.
Moroski left Moeller to be assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School in 2011 and I have no doubt he facilitated the same environment there as he did at Moeller.
Now two years later, he’s been fired for supporting gay marriage on his blog.
I understand why the archdiocese felt it needed to take action. The Catholic Church does not support gay marriage and Moroski is supposed to be an extension of the Catholic Church and its teachings in the classroom.
But read the mission statement of Purcell Marian, which is very similar to most Catholic schools.
It aims to produce graduates who “live a life dedicated to learning and service.”
It’s a sad reality that many teachers have a null effect on who we become. But Mike Moroski embodied the Catholic academic mission in his words and his actions. His effect was anything but null.
I was not Mike Moroski’s favorite student. I don’t still keep in touch with him and honestly, he might not even remember who I am. His impact, though, is undeniable.
The archdiocese’s decision (it’s important to note this was not Purcell Marian’s call) to willingly part from him shows a scary lack of perspective and understanding of what’s truly important.
This is not about your views on gay marriage, it’s about seeing the obvious. Moroski is a blessing, not a detriment to his students and everyone around him. Any opinion to the contrary is misguided.
I encourage you to visit mikemoroski.com to read his perspectives and sign the petition asking to save his job at change.org.