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Nearly two decades ago, Father Joseph Champlin realized that too many children in need were not graduating from high school. He desperately wanted to find a way to stop the cycle of poverty by helping these kids receive a quality education based on a strong set of values. In 1997, he started the Guardian Angel Society to raise funds for tuition assistance to allow children to attend Cathedral School and to provide mentor relationships for the young children so they would enjoy academic and social success.
In September 2006, Cathedral School and Our Lady of Pompei School merged to form Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP) at the Our Lady of Pompei School building. What exists today is just what Father Champlin envisioned, hoped and prayed for until his passing in January, 2008. CAP is a sanctuary for so many children – an oasis where they feel safe, loved and accepted. From there, many students choose to continue on to Bishop Grimes Prep, Bishop Ludden or Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). Father ensured scholarships would be available to those families in need until the kids’ high school graduation
To date, well over 300 students some all the way through from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, have been helped with tuition aid support made possible by generous donations from community members. Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society is a domestic Trust whose only sources of income are donations and grants.
Guardian Angel Society scholars represent a very diverse population. Many scholars hail from economically challenged refugee families. Because these students face more difficulties than others, their abilities to succeed in junior high school can be compromised. With intervention, studies show that these “at risk” students will stay in school.
Despite the everyday challenges these families face, these parents strongly desire their children to receive a quality education and, as they have said, “to give the children the best chance for success and to build strong faith and values…”
The Guardian Angel Society Difference
When the Guardian Angel Society began, Father Champlin recruited a dedicated group of 40 community volunteers who provided one-on-one mentoring for the students at Cathedral School. Father’s vision produced a model program; students were well prepared for junior high and high school. In recent years, the Mentor & Tutor Program was expanded to support students in the junior and senior high schools as well. Today, many mentors choose to continue to support their mentees through high school.
Guardian Angel Society scholars have graduation rates that exceed the 2014 NYS Education Department published graduation rate of 48.8% for the Syracuse City School District.
Guardian Angel Society scholars have gone on to fine colleges and universities such as Georgetown, Notre Dame, Clarkson, Pittsburgh, Syracuse Universities, Le Moyne College and Onondaga Community College, to name a few.
The first Guardian Angel Society scholars have now graduated from college and are establishing successful careers, starting families and contributing to the community. Many of them have become Guardian Angel Society donors as well; a true testament to their gratitude for the support they received
Dr. Hayes Wanamaker, Chairman
Christine Woodcock Dettor, Vice Chairman
Michael Paparo, Treasurer
James Kearns, Secretary
Dr. Tammy Anthony
Michele Jones Galvin
Emeritus Board Members
Robert Daino, Jr.
Paul Genecco, in loving memory
Paul Kline, in loving memory
W. Dennis Owen
Kathy Fedrizzi, Executive Director
Tamela Fabiano, Mentor & Tutor Program Coordinator
Father Joseph M. Champlin
Father Joseph Champlin was born on May 11, 1930. He was educated in the public schools of New York State before graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1947. After studying at Yale and Notre Dame Universities, he began and continued his journey to the priesthood at seminaries in Rochester, New York. He was ordained on February 2, 1956, for the diocese of Syracuse. During 50 years of priestly ministry, Father Champlin served as pastor in three parishes within his Diocese including rector at St. Joseph’s Church of Camillus, New York, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York and sacramental priest at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Warners, New York.
From 1968-1971 he served as Associate Director in the Liturgy Secretariat for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Father Champlin edited for the American Bishops Faithful to Each Other Forever: “A Catholic Handbook of Pastoral Help for Marriage Preparation.“
Father Champlin traveled more than two million miles here and abroad during these years lecturing on liturgical and pastoral matters as well as conducting retreats for priests and missions for parishes.
He wrote 50 books with over twenty million copies of his publications in print. For many years he authored a weekly column on the liturgy and worship distributed by the NC News Service and has also appeared in about a dozen videos and made numerous television appearances. His most popular volume is Together for Life in both English and Spanish, now with over nine million copies in circulation (Ave Maria Press/Liguori).
Father Champlin lectured widely on stewardship and sacrificial giving with a manual, Grateful Caretakers of God’s Many Gifts, including attractive companion fliers “Grateful Giving” and “Taking a Step” (Liturgical Press). In addition, Liturgical Press published a booklet by Father Champlin called: A Way of Life.
In November, 2003, Ave Maria Press released Slow Down: “Five Minute Reflections to De-Stress Your Days“ – a compilation of 101 radio spots which are still broadcast locally on WSYR Radio. In 2004, Alba House published From Time to Eternity and Back, a personalized account of Father’s struggle with Waldenstrom’s Disease, a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
Two books, The Breaking of the Bread: “An Updated Handbook for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” and The Eucharist: A Mystery of Faith, were released by Paulist Press in the fall of 2004.
He completed a thorough update of What It Means to be Catholic (St. Anthony Messenger Press). In addition, he wrote a sequel to Slow Down entitled Take Five, Preparing for Eternity: “A Catholic Handbook for End of Life Concerns” and a Beginners Guide for Reading the Bible (Ave Maria Press).
Catholic Book Publishing issued in 2006, A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life.
Three of his works were published by Liguori in Spanish: El Via Crucis Con el Papa Juan Pablo II (Stations of the Cross with Pope John Paul II), De la muerte a la vida (From Death to Life) and Juntos Para Toda La Vida (Together For Life with Rite of Marriage cards as well). The last book was consistently at the top of bestselling Catholic Spanish books list for quite a while.
He also appeared frequently on Sirius Satellite Radio at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday mornings.
In 1997, Father Champlin founded the Guardian Angel Society, a non-profit effort to assist children in the Central New York area from diverse, below poverty level homes with their education. Graduates are now studying at prestigious colleges and such as Georgetown, Notre Dame, Clarkson, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Le Moyne College and OCC, to name a few.
On January 17, 2008, Father Champlin passed away. His legacy lives on as the Guardian Angel Society continues to provide tuition assistance as well as mentor and tutor support to underprivileged children in the community who come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Its goal as Father Champlin put in place is to equip these students with a strong educational foundation focused on solid values, so they may become productive citizens and break the cycle of poverty.
Radio listeners worldwide heard Father Champlin offer his spiritual suggestions to de-stress life. His words of hope live on in this cd with 52 of his most inspiring messages. May they bring you some good thoughts, healthy spiritual habits and fewer stressful days. Father Champlin’s Spiritual Suggestions cd is available for purchase. All proceeds benefit Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society.