Much to celebrate during Catholic Schools Week

| February 3, 2011
Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Catholic Schools Week 2011 began on Jan. 30 and will run through Feb. 6.  This annual celebration is scheduled to include the feast of St. John Bosco (Jan. 31) who, in the mid-19th century, responded to the plight of homeless and abandoned children living in Turin, Italy, by founding orphanages and schools to care for them.

With the same dedicated concern for the well-being of our young people, Catholic administrators and teachers sacrifice their time, talent and, yes, even treasure to respond to their students’ educational and formational needs.

Catholic Schools Week is one opportunity to highlight and give thanks for all the good that is accomplished through our Catholic schools.

Blue ribbon group

Here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, this annual celebration will also draw special attention to a process of strengthening our educational and formational programs that has begun with our Strategic Plan for Parishes and Schools announced last October as well as with the more recent urgent reviews of 10 schools which ended in January.

In addition, I have recently named a “blue ribbon” Catholic Schools Commission of educators, business persons and people with other expertise who will build upon the work of the Archdiocesan Strategic Plan Task Force and the Alliance for Catholic Education Consultants from the University of Notre Dame.

I have given this commission the mandate to develop a system of ongoing evaluation for our schools in four strategic areas, namely: academic quality, financial management, governance, and advancement. It is my hope that regular and systematic evaluations will result in greater accountability by all of our Catholic schools to their various constituents.

I see the work of the commission developing into the establishment of an Archdiocesan Schools Advisory Board in the summer of 2011.  This board will then expand upon and begin to implement the recommendations that the commission makes and after they have been approved. I wish to hear from parents, teachers, principals and other school community members.  I will, in turn, report publicly about these input opportunities.  More information about the “Blue Ribbon” Commission is available at http://www.archspm.org.

Religion standards

K-8 religion standards were approved for our archdiocesan Catholic elementary schools in 2005.  Similarly, a new Doctrinal Curriculum Framework was approved by the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference in 2007 for Catholic high school programs.

More recently, an adaptation of this framework has been published for parish faith formation programs, as well as high school youth ministry programs. I have asked my staff to begin a process for integrating the Framework into our high school programs across the archdiocese.

The K-8 standards as well as the Curriculum Framework should ensure that all students, at their age appropriate level, receive a basic foundation in our Catholic faith regardless of what parish or school they attend.

Of course, as always, pastors, administrators and teachers may choose from any approved curriculum or approved resources which meet the expectations set by the Standards or Framework. It is my hope that by utilizing this methodology, students will develop a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus as well as be provided with a more cohesive appreciation and knowledge of our Catholic faith.

The three main reasons for our Catholic schools as well as our faith formation programs are: 1) the formation of saints and the salvation of souls; 2) the transmission of our Catholic faith, whole and entire, to each generation in a way that is vital and active; 3) the development in each student of the knowledge, skills, faith and moral sensitivity necessary to make a positive contribution to family, church and society at large.

Yes, there is much to celebrate during Catholic Schools Week 2011!

God bless you!

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Category: Only Jesus

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