Now that we are nearing Labor Day, it is fair to say: “Summer vacation is over.” I say it sadly since it means snow will be flying sooner than later. In spite of the fact that our poor children had to return to school in some of the hottest weather we’ve had all summer, we know that soon the leaves will be turning and heavy sweaters and coats will be the order of the day. Time to get back to the books and the work of education.
Education is work in which we are all involved. Parents, pastors, administrators, educators, staff and children—we all have work to do. We administrators and pastors have the large task of trying to redefine the method by which our schools are funded. Of course, most of the “heavy lifting” in this area is still borne by school tuitions and parish subsidies. There are, however, some new methods we will try to explore to improve our funding. These options, by design, attempt to create some fairly equal sharing across the diocese, assisting parents in fulfilling their obligation to educate their children in the Catholic school while maintaining the highest standards of excellence that have always been the hallmark of Catholic Education throughout the ages.
In the area of finance, the Deans and the Council of Priests will discuss these matters with a view toward making some changes and updating policies. You all know, and have heard me say many times before, that our Catholic schools are part of the mission of evangelization in the Church. We pride ourselves, further, on the fact that our Catholic schools are, and have been for years, at the forefront of academic excellence, maintaining the highest standards for quality education in elementary and, in particular, secondary education. The cost of our schools is part of the sacrifice we all make to secure the faith for the coming generations. Catholic schools should not simply be seen as “burdens” for those “unfortunate” parishes who happen to be “stuck” with them. Our review of financing will provide us with some more creative and innovative methods that will help us all share our common responsibility to educate our young people and maintain our Catholic schools.
Throughout the Diocese, I am seeing great efforts being taken by so many inside and outside the educational community to support and promote Catholic schools. New schools are opening and existing schools are modernizing and expanding their buildings. Enrollments are creeping up in slow and positive directions. I am even speaking with our seminarians to hear, who among them may be interested in going on for further study in education and administration. These efforts are part of our strategic diocesan planning for the future and I am happy to say that this part of the planning seems bright.
I have said to you many times over that I am a great supporter of Catholic Education and, particularly, Catholic schools. With Doctor Susan Holman, our Superintendent of Schools, and those responsible for assisting her in assembling a new and visionary finance procedure, and our superb teachers and administrators, I am certain that as our schools open this fall it will be with a new hope and positive approach to the proclamation of the faith and the education of our children. Through our, strong families, good parishes and vibrant schools, we will create in our Diocese a culture of life that will produce good citizens and healthy and holy human beings.
Join me at Sunday Mass to help this happen faster and stronger!