02 February 2012

Archbishop Carlson Outlines Catholic Schools Plan

Hi, sorry for the short post-- I've had a day, work-wise.  So, I wanted to post this story but have no time for comment as yet.  Next week.  I will be light on the blog for Friday through Monday as I am traveling with my daughter on scholarship stuff.  Not nonexistent blogging, just light.

From STLToday:

 Archbishop Carlson Outlines Schools Plan

by Elisa Crouch

Archbishop Robert Carlson is announcing a plan this afternoon that seeks to fill about 1,500 vacant seats at Catholic elementary schools in the region, while also enhancing the religious focus of the schools.

The financial centerpiece of the Alive in Christ campaign would be the creation of a new scholarship — which would have funds from parishes across the region — to help families afford tuition.

“My vision for Catholic schools is for them to be truly Alive in Christ,” said Carlson, in a letter released today outlining the initiatives. “As centers of faith, learning and service, they will be vibrant in their Catholic identity, growing, financially healthy, and able to assist those in need.”

In March, Carlson acknowledged one-third of Roman Catholic children do not attend their parish schools, and that half of them do not attend Catholic high schools. To make the schools more appealing to Catholic parents, he said, a number of issues needed to be addressed.

Among them is affordability. Under the plan, the new scholarship fund would be structured as follows:

• Parishes would contribute 2 percent of all parish external revenue, excluding endowment contributions, toward scholarships by the 2013-14 school year.
• 20 percent of the fund would go to mission schools that serve disadvantaged children.
• The remaining money would first go to Catholic families who are new to a school, then to existing Catholic students and finally to non-Catholic families seeking to enroll.
• Aside from the new scholarship fund, the archdiocese will seek to raise $5 million in new endowment revenue to assist families with elementary and high school age children.

Carlson is scheduled to announce his strategy this afternoon at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Manchester, nearly two years after arriving in St. Louis and naming improving education as his top priority. But the concerns he hopes to address — renewing the schools’ commitment to social justice, building up parishes, strengthening Catholic identity, making schools more affordable — date back decades.
In 2010 he began a series of listening sessions involving more than 3,000 people, including pastors, school administrators, parents and meetings with national experts. Through these and other meetings, Carlson has been developing strategies for the 148 schools in the 11-county archdiocese.

The bulk of the initiatives being announced today seek to step up religious observations at the schools. Those include new requirements for elementary schools, which must:
• Begin each day with prayer and reading the life of the saint of the day or the prayer for daily Mass,
• Pray the Rosary during October and May and the Stations of the Cross once a week during Lent.
• Hold weekly Mass by class or for the entire school as a minimum.
• Provide service projects.
• Require classes in apologetics for eighth graders (and for seniors in Archdiocesan high schools).
• Train each principal in her/his role as faith leader  and ensure every teacher has read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Peggy IL said...

I like many of the ideas about religious observations and the push for improved and hopefully full Catholic formation. I think mass should be daily, frankly. I think that teaching apologetics is a great idea. Kids leaving grade school to public HS or Cath HS to colleges need the tools to defend and maintain their faith.
I don't like the idea of service projects imposed by schools. Even for a Catholic school, I don't think it's any one's business to make a person "volunteer" and do goody-goody stuff. This type of activity is usually too removed from the faith. Instruct the children to help at home and honor their parents, grandparents etc.
One less substantive note. There is a JFK Catholic H.S.? Sigh!

Cathy D said...

I would really like to know what, if any, this will do to help middle class families afford Catholic schools, especially secondary schools. At 10k+ per child, Catholic high schools are really for the wealthy only.

I have two kids at Kennedy, but it's only with help that we are able to do it and even so we're struggling to pay other bills to keep them there. I can't wait until my older two graduate so I can afford to have my plumbing fixed!

On the positive side, I am pleased at Archbishop Carlson's plan to to increase the Catholic identity of the schools. I would say seniors in high school need the apologetics more than the 8th graders.

Cobalt60 said...

I agree in most part with the two current comments. Although details cited are important, the overriding fact is that Archbishop Carlson is the only Archbishop in recent St. Louis history who has the courage to tackle the serious decline and defects in Catholic education in our area.
It take courage for him to put forth a bold plan even though it may not be perfect in all respects. It's far more than has been done before and should inspire us to get behind the program to offer improvements where necesary (avoid knit picking details)and to support the movement so no momentum is not lost.
God Bless Archbishop Carlson for his wisdom and courage.

Cathy D said...

I read the article in the review this weekend. The financial assistance seems to be specifically for Catholic elementary schools. Big bummer.