Archbishop encourages first class at new Institute for Catholic School Leadership

| July 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda talks with Merylann “Mimi” Schuttloffel, left, as well as Father Bryce Evans, foreground, Father Kevin Manthey and Dominican Sister Terese Christi Balek after a July 10 dinner with the first class of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Schuttloffel is the Leadership Institute’s founding director and Father Evans is chaplain for the institute’s certificate program. Sister Terese teaches eighth-grade and sophomore history at St. Agnes School in St. Paul and Father Manthey is chaplain at Hill-Murray School in Maplewood. Both are students at the institute. JOE RUFF / CATHOLIC SPIRIT

Encouraging the first class of an initiative offering Catholic formation for principals and aspiring principals, Archbishop Bernard Hebda reminded the 20 participants that their work as teachers and school leaders goes beyond meeting students’ academic needs.

“It’s important that we give ourselves over to it as a vocation, and also that we’re administering it within the Church as part of Jesus’ (teaching ministry),” the archbishop said at a July 10 dinner meeting with the cohort at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

“It requires that we prepare ourselves in a very particular way,” the archbishop said. “This is something that the Lord and the Church are calling you to perform.”

Launched in January as a joint venture of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office for the Mission of Catholic Education and the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the Institute for Catholic School Leadership offers a 14-month, graduate-level Certificate in Catholic School Leadership.

Human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation are key aspects of the institute’s work, said its founding director, Merylann Schuttloffel, known widely as “Dr. Mimi,” a national expert in Catholic school leadership.

The goal is to form school leaders who place reflection and decision-making in a Catholic context, and who help shape their school communities into witnesses of the Catholic faith, Schuttloffel said. It’s what she refers to as “contemplative leadership.”

Leadership and influence on faculty and students also can extend to students’ parents, who entrust their children to Catholic schools for academic and faith formation of their children outside the home, Archbishop Hebda told the group.

“You are the infantry in the work that we as the Church have to do, you and our parish priests,” the archbishop said.

The institute is an important part of the Office for the Mission of Catholic Education’s Roadmap for Excellence in Catholic Education, also announced in January, which will guide and coordinate the strategic approach of the archdiocese to Catholic schools over the next several years.

Archbishop Hebda; Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, vicar for Catholic education; and Jason Slattery, director of the education office, helped shape the archdiocese’s Roadmap, which focuses on five areas affecting Catholic elementary schools: talent management and leadership intiatives, including the Leadership Institute; curriculum and metrics; access and sustainability; mission schools and their governance; and governance of Catholic schools.

An initial summer session for the cohort was held June 15 through July 19, with the group living at The St. Paul Seminary and learning through classroom instruction and faith formation. During the academic year, participants will receive mentoring and complete online courses remotely, then return to the seminary for a second, month-long summer program next year.

Applications are being taken now for a second 20-member cohort to begin the cycle anew during the first group’s closing summer session.
Members of the first cohort include four religious sisters, three priests and 13 lay people. Three of the sisters and one lay person are from outside the archdiocese. One goal of the institute is to expand its influence into the Church province that includes Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Schuttloffel said.

“We are very pleased with how it’s going,” she said of the initial summer session. Students are finding it is rigorous and laying a solid foundation for leadership roles, she said.

Institute officials were delighted to have the archbishop join the cohort as part of its weekly dinner and speaker series, Schuttloffel said.
“He has been such a terrific supporter of the institute since it first was proposed,” she said.

One participant, Troy Newlove, said he is attending the institute in hopes of using his formation in the faith to help other people, to learn about the potential of being a leader in Catholic schools and to effectively integrate Catholic teaching into all aspects of the classroom.

It was great to hear the archbishop’s affirmation of the leadership program and of Catholic schools in general, he said.

“His words of affirmation and praise and support struck a good chord in my heart,” said Newlove, who teaches band and seventh-grade religion at Nativity of Our Lord School in St. Paul.

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