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St. Francis School to have male leader for first time in 94-year history


    Casey M. Asato

Saint Francis School will be led by a male head of school for the first time in its 94-year history following the ouster in June of Sister Joan of Arc Souza.

The selection of Honolulu-born Casey M. Asato, 46, represents big changes for Saint Francis School, which no longer has a nun on campus after Souza was removed from her position by Sister Barbara Jean Donovan, who is responsible for Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities from Honolulu to Syracuse, N.Y.

Asato was selected by Saint Francis’ board of directors to replace Souza’s interim replacement, assistant principal Erin Marshall.

School started Monday at Saint Francis with an enrollment of about 440 girls and boys. In 2006, Souza oversaw Saint Francis’ transition to a coed campus.

Asato had been a teacher and administrator at Seabury Hall on Maui since 2006 and its director of curriculum since 2012.

In a statement, Asato said he wants Saint Francis to become “a world class college preparatory school in which students are pursuing their interests, they’re engaged with their learning and they find meaning and purpose through their contributions to society.”

Asato received a bachelor of science degree from Santa Clara University with a major in finance and a minor in Japanese. He also has master’s degrees in social studies from Columbia University and in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

In 2017, Asato earned a doctoral degree in professional educational practice from UH and interviewed Souza as part of his doctoral dissertation.

“My sister graduated from Saint Francis in 1984 and she had Sister Joan of Arc Souza as a teacher,” Asato said in a statement. “She always admired Sister for her down-to-earth, approachable style.”

Asato is not a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, but is a lifelong Roman Catholic and 1989 graduate of Damien Memorial School.

At Seabury Hall, Asato taught world history, introduction to economics, advanced placement macroeconomics, Asian history, global issues and Japanese art and aesthetics.

Asato has traveled to 24 nations, taken four motorcycle trips through Japan, and bicycled through France.

His wife, Mariangela, is a native of Peru. They adopted a 4-month-old child named Nina Kalealoha.

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