What I really need to do is remove the links to categories that appears on the thumbnail images for the News Block. I only want the actual page title and no reference to the category. I assume I need to have categories so that I may pick out certain pages for my news block.
Regarding the links form the category you need to customize our theme. We recommend you to create child theme and remove <a> tags form the section’s category which you wish to remove.
Yes, categories are given so that one can choose the prefered post but, it’s not mandatory to display the categories. If you don’t want to show the chosen category just place the following code in Additional CSS section in the customizer.