Saturday, October 10, 2015

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Catholic Education Daily

Catholic Education Daily Articles


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Independent Catholic Schools Association Celebrates 20 Years
The National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS), which promotes faithful Catholic education among its members, celebrated its 20th anniversary this past year. The organization has thrived over the past two decades through its commitment to connecting independent schools across the world and offering support. 

“Our schools share a common vision and mission, which is the salvation of souls and academic excellence,” said Eileen Cubanski, executive director of NAPCIS, in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. “Every decision our schools make is focused on those two goals.”

“Twenty years ago, we saw the number of Catholic homeschooling families and Catholic independent schools growing exponentially,” Cubanski explained. These schools had unique visions for inculcating the Catholic faith to respond to the growing interest.

White House Shouldn’t Interfere with Catholic Education, Says Catholic Schools Expert
Catholics must continue to push for the religious freedom needed to carry out the mission and purpose of Catholic education, despite White House attempts to interfere with Catholic schools, argued Dr. Jamie Arthur, senior fellow and manager of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll, in a Breitbart op-ed yesterday.

“Catholics who value the mission of Catholic education will continue to demand religious freedom so that we can live out our faith—without intimidation or any type of persecution—for generations to come,” Arthur wrote.

Last month, the Newman Society reported that the White House assisted the Human Rights Campaign—which claims to be the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization—in obtaining tickets for fired Catholic school teacher Margie Winters and her same-sex partner Andrea Vettori to attend Pope Francis’ visit to the White House. 

Philadelphia, Springfield Dioceses Protect Catholic Identity with Parent Agreements
In recent months, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois have released versions of a “family-school agreement,” which they hope will aid in strengthening both Catholic families and the Catholic identity of diocesan schools.

“These types of documents can act as both barriers and gates for entry into the school,” said Dr. Denise Donohue, deputy director of The Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 education programs. “These types of agreements, which primarily address issues of morality and human sexuality, are quick attempts to address the issue of poorly catechized adult Catholics. They are also proactive attempts to address those who might have underlying agendas.”

New Book Goes Back to the Basics of Authentic Catholic Education
A new primer on Catholic education will help Catholic educators better understand the Catholic intellectual tradition and build a foundation for morally forming students. The book, Renewing the Mind: A Reader in the Philosophy of Catholic Education, is written by Dr. Ryan Topping, who spoke to The Cardinal Newman Society on how his book will benefit Catholic education.

“It’s no secret that Catholic schools have suffered in recent years in North America, and in most other places,” said Topping, who is also a fellow at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H. “One way we can rebuild is by helping parents and teachers deepen their understanding of the principles that support their practice.” He hopes that Renewing the Mind “in due time will become a standard text in Catholic teacher-training programs and courses in the philosophy of education across the English speaking world.”

Topping’s book has come at a time when Catholic education is being renewed to better integrate students’ moral and spiritual formation with their academic formation. The sources and works which his reader highlights are directed toward this integration.

Catholic Education Begins with Family, Says World Meeting of Families Speaker
Catholic families are the first and best educators of their children when it comes to issues of marriage and family, and they have the opportunity to lay a strong Catholic foundation upon which Catholic schools and colleges can build, said Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society in advance of his address to the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

O’Donnell, who was appointed by Saint John Paul II as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family, will speak at the World Meeting on the topic, “Rebuild My Church… and Start from the Foundation: Living as ‘Domestic Church.’” He will focus on the challenges of Christian marriage and family and the central role that the family plays in the evangelization of the modern world.

“Catholic education has to start very early,” said O’Donnell. “It shouldn’t just be at college. It should start in the home through mom and dad.”

Pope Francis Will Find U.S. Catholic Education Struggling, But Many Signs of Hope
When Pope Francis arrives in the United States on September 22, he will find Catholic education not only in a crisis of truth and faith but also fighting for survival, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly writes in a special issue from Inside The Vatican commemorating the Holy Father’s upcoming visit.

However, the renewal begun by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, is already taking hold in America and offers a new sense of hope for those who desire authentic and faithful Catholic education, Reilly explains.

In his article, “The ‘Crisis of Truth’ (and the Renewal) in American Catholic Education,” Reilly details the struggles in Catholic schools and colleges and the response needed to restore faithful education.

Archbishop Cordileone’s Teacher Contract Successfully Affirms Catholic Values, Says Newman Society Expert
After months of harassment and nasty criticism by opponents of Catholic moral teaching—including dissident groups like Call to Action, politicians, and even many Catholic school teachers—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has successfully reached a contract agreement with high school teachers in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

While the contract language is not as strong as many other diocesan employment documents, Archbishop Cordileone prevailed in expressing the important moral responsibilities that teachers must accept while working at a Catholic school, says Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society.

In his recent piece for Crisis Magazine, Guernsey praised Archbishop Cordileone for his “shepherd’s heart” in “moving his flock closer to the heart of the Church and the loving heart of our Savior dwelling within.” Guernsey evaluates the new preamble to the Archdiocese’s updated employment documents, finding much that is commendable but also room for improvement in future contracts.

World Meeting of Families Speaker Urges Faithful Catholic Education
Faithful Catholic education is essential to reclaiming a true understanding of marriage and human sexuality and renewing family life in the United States, according to Dr. John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C.

Grabowski will speak on virtue at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, when the Holy Father visits in September. He has taught moral theology at CUA since 1991, was appointed with his wife to the Pontifical Council for the Family by Pope Benedict XVI, and was recently chosen by Pope Francis to be part of the Synod on the Family in October.

“Education in a Catholic sense always has to be about more than passing on information, it has to be about formation of the person in the life of faith in the life of the Christian community,” said Grabowski. “That means we have to be concerned about how are we forming people in virtue and not simply giving them information and preparing them for careers.”

Gates Foundation Gave $1.2 Million to Loyola Marymount for Common Core Events
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded a day of Common Core pep rallies across California last month, including a $1.2 million grant to Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles. Both LMU and St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, hosted events to get educators excited about the controversial school standards embraced by many public and Catholic schools.

The Loyola Marymount and St. Mary’s College rallies on July 31, titled “Better Together: California Teachers Summit,” were among 33 coordinated events across the state involving more than 15,000 teachers. They gathered to share best practices and learn how to implement Common Core standards in their schools, amid a lot of glitz and glamor—including video presentations from Harrison Ford, John Hamm and Meryl Streep.

The Summit was not only for public school teachers, and at least some Catholic school teachers were present, according to EdSource.

Faithful Catholic Schools Depend on Faithful Teacher Prep., Says U. Dallas Education Chair
If faithful Catholic schools are to survive, there needs to be faithful teacher training programs to prepare the next generation of Catholic educators, argued Dr. Janette Boazman, chair of the University of Dallas education department. Boazman spoke to The Cardinal Newman Society about the University’s new Catholic teacher certification program, and how it will prepare teachers to lead students in moral formation.

“Catholic school leaders and teachers have a duty to be models of moral behavior for their students,” said Boazman. “It is their integrity that brings forth their ability to truthfully guide students morally and spiritually, and to minister to others in the educational setting.”

The new graduate-level teacher certification program at University of Dallas is described as being “[r]ooted in church doctrine and educational research.” Current and aspiring Catholic school teachers will be taught “to provide a Christian education that integrates faith into all teaching and learning experiences.”

Homeschooled Students Increase as Concerns over Common Core Remain
The latest studies show that an increasing number of students are being homeschooled by their parents in order to avoid Common Core, which is found even in many Catholic schools. There is no question that the link is there and that parents are extremely concerned about how Common Core will affect their children’s Catholic education, said Florida Catholics Against Common Core’s Rolando Perez. 

The Florida Department of Education recently released a report detailing a 9.6 percent increase in children being homeschooled, the largest increase in five years, according to the Herald Tribune. Since 2010, nearly 25,000 additional students in Florida have opted for homeschooling in lieu of public and Catholic school options. 

“There is great concern about the indoctrination, data mining and constant testing that Common Core has brought to schools, including Catholic schools,” said Perez, who along with other concerned parents formed Florida Catholics Against Common Core. The priority for Common Core State Standards seems to be preparing students for future jobs, Perez affirmed. The standards then become utilitarian and distract from students’ moral and spiritual formation by placing too much emphasis on testing and performance.

Catholic Education ‘Going to Win’ HHS Mandate Suits, Predicts Becket Fund Attorney
All the evidence suggests that Catholic schools and colleges are going to win their challenges to the Obama administration’s “HHS mandate,” attorney Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty told The Cardinal Newman Society.

In a summary of lawsuits compiled by the Newman Society with information from the Becket Fund, at least 22 Catholic schools and 11 Catholic colleges have challenged the mandate in federal courts. Two of the schools— Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln, Neb., and Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Fla.—are on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll of faithful Catholic high schools.

Eight of the colleges are recommended in the Newman Guide, including Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn.; Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.; Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.; The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Cal.; University of Dallas, Tex.; and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.

Winning permanent injunctions against enforcement of the HHS mandate is critical to the protection of Catholic schools and colleges and their ability to faithfully live out their Catholic identity and mission, attested Rienzi, who is also an assistant professor at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. Under the current form of the HHS mandate, most Catholic institutions would be forced to facilitate employee access to full insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including some that cause abortion. If schools and colleges are not granted relief from the HHS mandate, they will be subjected to severe fines for not participating.

Status of Catholic Education Challenges to HHS Mandate
As of July 2015, at least 33 Catholic institutions have filed suits challenging the Obama administration’s “HHS mandate,” requiring employer coverage of sterilization and contraceptives (including some that cause abortion) in employee health plans.

In a summary of lawsuits compiled by the Newman Society with information from the Becket Fund, at least 22 Catholic schools and 11 Catholic colleges have challenged the mandate in federal courts. Two of the schools— Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln, Neb., and Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Fla.—are on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll of faithful Catholic high schools.

Eight of the colleges are recommended in the Newman Guide, including Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn.; Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.; Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.; The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Cal.; University of Dallas, Tex.; and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.

Priests Needed in Catholic Schools for Increased Faithfulness
The priest’s presence in Catholic schools is a crucial component of faithful Catholic education and must be reintegrated for the benefit of young people, especially considering the secular impact on today’s academic environment, argues the organizer of an upcoming seminar on “The Role of the Priest in Today’s Catholic School.”

“The essential role of the priest in Catholic schools used to be considered self-evident,” Father Peter Stravinskas, director of the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF), told The Cardinal Newman Society. “When I was young, every priest in the parish taught a religious course in the local Catholic schools.”

But things have changed, and as Catholic schools began pursuing more secular goals—such as academic excellence, athletic distinction, or conventional college preparation—the priest’s presence has become an afterthought, Fr. Stravinskas lamented.

Notre Dame Seminar to Equip Catholic Teachers with Truth of Science and Religion
Are science and religion really opposed to one another? A seminar currently taking place at the University of Notre Dame is helping equip Catholic high school teachers to debunk that common myth and offer their students a faithful, integrated approach to faith and science.

The summer seminar, “Science and Religion: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners in the Search for Truth?” is hosted by the University’s Institute for Church Life (ICL) and runs from June 14-19. According to the University news release, “some 90 Catholic high school teachers of biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and religion from 23 dioceses from across the country” are attending. The seminar is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, with supplemental funding from the Catholic Extension Society.

“High school teachers have enormous influence over young people and rightly so, and we want to help them maximize that influence by helping them to create an integrated pedagogy at their own school that can renew and perpetuate itself over time,” said John Cavadini, ICL director and professor of theology at Notre Dame.

As such, the primary focus of the seminar is on equipping the teachers. “I admire these teachers very much, they are so dedicated to Catholic education,” Cavadini told the Newman Society. “This seminar is intended to help them.”

Pope Francis Says Families Should Beware of ‘Strange Ideas,’ ‘Ideological’ Teaching in Schools
The forecast in Rome on Sunday called for rain, but the only things descending on the Vatican were crowds of families for the opening of the Ecclesial Congress of the Diocese of Rome, where Pope Francis encouraged parents to remember their essential role as the primary educators of their children, making sure to educate them against the cultural ideas destroying the family.

“Yes, it’s true, there is a rain of families in Saint Peter’s Square,” said Pope Francis as he joyfully greeted the crowds. The Holy Father thanked parents for joining him and for their willingness to be examples of the moral and spiritual life for their children. He stated that the educational task of parents is becoming especially difficult in an increasingly relativistic and secular world.

Scholar Urges ‘Continuous Exposure to Beauty’ in Catholic Education
It is critical for Catholic schools to expose students to beauty in the classroom, in liturgy and throughout the campus, as beauty has the unique ability to open students to God’s divine love, said Dr. Margaret Hughes, assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Dr. Hughes, one of the presenters at the Sacra Liturgia USA 2015conference last week in New York City, discussed the role of beauty and liturgy in a talk titled, “The Ease of Beauty: Liturgy, Evangelization, and Catechesis.” The topic of beauty was a consistent theme in this year’s Sacra Liturgia, as its connection to reverent liturgy as well as education is immutable.

“A continuous exposure to beauty throughout an education allows a person to continue to develop throughout his life the habits of attentiveness to and receptivity of the good of existence, so that he is able to delight in that good,” Hughes told the Newman Society after the conference. This receptivity and delight in beauty is “the goal of any appropriate human formation, since humans are ultimately fulfilled in the joy of the Beatific Vision.”

Bishop Ricken: Teaching in Catholic Schools is Vocation Primarily for Catholics
Teachers at Catholic schools are daily witnesses to Christ and are tasked with integrating the faith into every lesson, said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Because of the unique responsibilities inherent in teaching, it should be understood as a “vocation” and not a “career” that is primarily for Catholics, he explained.

The interview with Bishop Ricken, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, is the latest in a series of Newman Society conversations with bishops about Catholic education and teachers. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop John Nienstedt, Bishop David O’Connell and Bishop Richard Lennon have each offered their input on this important subject, especially in light of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s courageous efforts in San Francisco to ensure that Catholic teachers understand their pivotal responsibility to witness to the faith.

A teacher’s most important quality is the ability “to integrate the Catholic faith in every discipline and be a life-long learner in the faith and disciplines which he or she is teaching,” Bishop Ricken stated. The teacher should also ideally “be a practicing Catholic, holding at least a Bachelor’s degree and teacher certification, and be capable of using a variety of teaching methods and differentiated instruction.”

Bishop Conley Attributes Ordinations to Faithful Catholic Education
Faithful Catholic families and education are responsible for the growing number of vocations in the United States, according to Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., who recently ordained eight men to the priesthood for his Diocese.

“Today’s ordination is a testament to the Providence of God,” said Bishop Conley in his homily. “It is a testament to families who formed these young men in the faith. It is a testament to our Catholic schools. This is indeed a joyous occasion.”

Bishop Conley is not alone in his admiration for Catholic schools, joining a growing list of bishops who have applauded faithful Catholic education in recent weeks. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul-Minneapolis, Minn.; Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, N.J.; Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, Ohio; andBishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., have all shown their support for Catholic education—an issue of increasing importance, given recent attacks against Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s defense of Catholic school identity in San Francisco.

Archbishop Nienstedt Commends Catholic Identity Efforts in San Francisco
The efforts of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco to fortify Catholic identity were praised by Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul-Minneapolis, Minn., who told The Cardinal Newman Society that proper teacher formation is crucial to Catholic education. 

“Catholic schools must be distinctive in our current culture, and the authentic witness that teachers and administrators can provide is crucial to forming disciples of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Nienstedt said in an interview with the Newman Society last week. “I would commend Archbishop Cordileone for his efforts.” 

Today’s culture has made it increasingly important for teachers to provide “witness” to students and families. Archbishop Nienstedt remarked that “this is not always easy, as teachers are just as susceptible as others to the realities of temptation and sin.” Nevertheless, he stressed that “intentionally striving to live as a witness in word and deed, practicing the natural and supernatural virtues and praying on a regular basis will offer a powerful witness.”

Five Years Since Launch of Common Core, Concerns Remain for Catholic Schools
Five years after the official release of the Common Core State Standards on June 2, 2010, The Cardinal Newman Society has released two new reports on the experimental reform and remains convinced that the English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards by themselves are insufficient and even potentially harmful for Catholic schools, which must keep Christ and the Catholic faith as the true core of education.

Even more disconcerting are the many curricula and textbooks that have been labeled “Common Core” but depart from the successful practices and principles of Catholic education, as well as standardized tests adjusted to Common Core standards that have been widely criticized.

“It may at some point be possible to use parts of the Common Core in isolation in Catholic schools,” allows Dr. Dan Guernsey, the Newman Society’s director of K-12 education programs, “but it will be years before we know if it is effective in what it claims to deliver. The first testing on the Common Core just occurred this spring, and we are awaiting first results.”

The Cardinal Newman Society, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and individual bishops have urged Catholic educators to exercise caution with regard to the Common Core, withholding support before it has been thoroughly tested. The Newman Society maintains a website, Catholic Is Our Core, to educate Catholics about the Standards, including the special report, “10 Facts Every Catholic Should Know About the Common Core.”

Common Core Turns Five
G.K. Chesterton once wisely suggested that a child should not be subjected to an educational philosophy younger than he is. Such wisdom would relegate the Common Core to preschool—and a public preschool at that, but certainly not America’s Catholic schools.

In a saner world the Common Core State Standards, which were first unveiled in June 2010, would just be coming out of beta testing in a small-scale study to determine their efficacy. If data proved they were significantly successful, then various states would begin to consider adapting the proven elements into their own standards.

Of course, this is not what actually happened. When the Common Core was first unveiled during the height of the “great recession,” states in pursuit of federal funding quickly signed onto the untested Common Core—for some of them, sight unseen. Forty-six states signed on to the Common Core, with only Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia refusing to jump on the band wagon. Many Catholic dioceses in the Common Core states followed suit, wanting to ensure consistency with state standards and national tests.

Teachers ‘Instrumental’ in Developing Students’ Catholic Faith, Says Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon
Catholic school teachers must be role models of faith and morality for their students to emulate, Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, Ohio, has told teachers in his Diocese.

In a letter sent to diocesan teachers and administrators and provided to The Cardinal Newman Society by diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek, Bishop Lennon highlighted teachers’ irreplaceable role in inspiring their students to deepen their Catholic faith.

“As a teacher or administrator in a Catholic school, you are engaging a beautiful and uniquely important vocation and ministry of Christ’s Church,” his letter states. “You are instrumental in the development of each and every student as a whole and authentically Catholic person… As such, it is a great honor and privilege to play such a special and important role in the life of the Church through your ministry.”

Pope Francis Weighs In On Role of Teachers, Coaches as Witnesses
Pope Francis last week said that the influence of a Catholic educator “depends more on what he is as a person and the way he lives than what he says,” and even athletics coaches—whom he included as educators—must be “formators” and therefore need their own “solid formation” to prepare forgiving witness to the faith. 

The Pope’s words are especially timely in the United States, as many bishops have been working to better define the Church’s expectations for Catholic school employees, even while some teachers in San Francisco are demanding a right to dissent. 

“[H]ow important it is that a coach be an example of integrity, of coherence, of good judgment, of impartiality, but also of joy of living, of patience, of capacity to esteem and of benevolence to all, especially the most disadvantaged!” Pope Francis stated, according to ZENIT’stranslation. “And how important it is that he be an example of faith!”

Pope Francis: Parents Should Assert Proper Role as Educators, Not Yield to ‘Experts’
Pope Francis yesterday made a forceful plea for parents to reassert their role as primary educators of their children, an argument that has great significance for Catholic schools and homeschooling families and puts education in the spotlight as the Church prepares for the World Meeting of Families in September in Philadelphia and the Synod on the Family in October in Rome.

Pope Francis began by expressing his joy at seeing so many families gathered with their children, according to Zenit’s translation of the address. He noted that the “essential characteristic of the family” is its “natural vocation to educate the children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.” Speaking directly to parents, he encouraged them not to shrink away from this unique and God-given role in education.

“Jesus himself went through family education,” Pope Francis explained. “In this case also, the grace of the life of Christ leads to fulfillment what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that a good family education is the spinal cord of humanism.”

Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said that the Holy Father’s recognition of the parents’ special role is important to the Church. “You have to know and love the sheep you shepherd,” Guernsey said. “You have to be with them where they are and lead them to truth in the light of faith. No one knows (or should know) the young sheep better than its mother and father.”

Bishop O’Connell: Catholic School Teachers Must Be ‘Recognizably Different,’ Share Catholic Mission
Catholic schools have a responsibility to bear authentic witness to the faith and be noticeably different from secular schools, said Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, N.J., in an exclusive interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

“The Catholic school environment, to be authentic and real, demands” that teachers be witnesses to the Catholic faith, said Bishop O’Connell, who as president of The Catholic University of America from 1998 to 2010 did much to strengthen its Catholic identity. “Teachers in Catholic schools should be recognizably different from their secular counterparts.”

The Cardinal Newman Society has been interviewing bishops about Catholic education and the role of teachers, in light of the courageous efforts of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco to ensure that his Catholic school teachers are witnesses to the Catholic faith. Last week Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Newman Society that the purpose of Catholic schools is “to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the nations.”

Bishop O’Connell stressed the important role that Catholic teachers play as witnesses to the faith. “Catholic teachers in a Catholic school should be faithful Catholics. Non-Catholics should respect the Church’s teachings and the Catholic environment. No one should publicly advocate contrary to those teachings or the Catholic identity/environment of the Catholic school,” he affirmed.

Vatican to Address ‘Educational Emergency’ at World Congress Marking Key Anniversaries
Marking the anniversaries of two critical Vatican documents on education, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education is preparing for a World Congress this year to address the growing “educational emergency” in Catholic education.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissium Educationis, issued by Pope Paul VI in 1965, and the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1990.

But while the anniversaries call for celebration of the important mission of Catholic education, the Congregation for Catholic Education plans to discuss some of the more critical concerns in education when its World Congress meets in Rome on November 18-21.

“As part of these celebrations, the Congregation aims to re-energize the Church’s commitment to education, by means of this World Congress,” the Congregation states on its website. “In the years following the Second Vatican Council, the Magisterium has repeatedly spoken of the importance of education, and has also invited the Christian community to play its part in education – particularly in the face of today’s obvious, and often critical, ‘educational emergency.’”

Opinion: Archbishop Cordileone, A Good Shepherd to His Teachers
Since February, the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Catholic schools have been in the spotlight as Archbishop Cordileone has sought to support and strengthen Catholic schools under his guidance. A part of his effort has been to clarify the expectations of Catholic teachers in his diocese. Toward this end he wanted to ensure that the teachers understood their ministerial role as evangelizers of the Catholic faith and that they were specifically aware of “hot button issues” (most around issues of human sexuality and reproduction) that they should not publicly contradict. These efforts were met with a firestorm of complaint, both from over 75 percent of the high school teachers in his schools, plus the efforts of paid publicists and a full-page open letter to Pope Francis demanding his removal for being “intolerant.” 

This week the Catholic News Agency ran a piece, “San Francisco Archdiocese Praises Teachers, Rejects ‘Inflammatory’ Reports.” In the article, the Archdiocese seeks to emphasize its efforts to listen to the concerns of the teachers and ensure them of their support, its openness to input on these issues, and its assurance that these efforts are not an effort to provide an excuse to fire teachers or pry into their personal lives, and that the archdiocese wants to “heal any rifts that may remain.” This attempt at healing within his flock shows the genuine, forgiving and pastoral heart of this good shepherd. 

Like any good shepherd, he needs to keep all the members of his flock, especially his teachers, safe, secure and flourishing. It is important that they know he loves them, cares for them and respects them so they can better heed his call. He knows what he is doing, loves all his sheep, is well-trained, and has access to specific grace from God to carry out this task. This love also requires speaking the truth to his flock, especially regarding the real dangers surrounding them. It is not hating or shaming the sheep to tell them, “beware there is a cliff over on the left side of the pasture and a pack of wolves on the other side of the fence to the right.”  

U.S. Bishops’ Leader Says Catholic Schools ‘Exist to Proclaim Good News of Jesus Christ’
The very purpose of Catholic schools is to witness to Christ, said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this week in an exclusive statement to The Cardinal Newman Society. 

“Catholic schools exist to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the nations,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “Through Catholic school education, students are daily invited to know Jesus personally, to love Him intimately, and to serve Him wholeheartedly. As Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.’” 

The question of evangelization—and to what extent Catholic school teachers are expected to uphold the faith both inside and outside the classroom—has been controversial in San Francisco, where dissenting organizations like Call to Action have been provoking opposition to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s changes to a faculty handbook. But other dioceses nationwide also have been working to improve Catholic schools by focusing greater attention on Catholic identity.

Majority in San Francisco Supporting Archbishop Cordileone’s Efforts, According to Online Poll
An online poll posted Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle—a strong critic of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s efforts to fortify the Catholic identity of San Francisco’s Catholic schools—is showing very strong support for the Archbishop’s courageous defense of Catholic teaching. The “weekly poll” is still accepting votes from visitors to the Chronicle website.

The Chronicle—which claims to be the largest circulation daily in northern California—published the poll on Friday, April 17. Readers are invited to respond to the question, “Should Pope Francis remove Archbishop Cordileone from the San Francisco archdiocese?”

As of Monday afternoon, April 20, almost nine out of 10 respondents supported the Archbishop. An overwhelming 77 percent of respondents selected the answer, “No, the archbishop is upholding the values of the Catholic Church.”

Cincinnati Superintendent Defends Notion of Catholic School Teacher as ‘Minister’
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s references to the “ministry” of Catholic education may be controversial in San Francisco, but in other dioceses like the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the same language is already embraced in Catholic schools. In an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Cincinnati’s superintendent of Catholic schools provided compelling reasons to understand teachers as “ministers.”

Catholic Schools Are ‘Vehicles’ of Pro-Life Movement, Say Pro-Life Leaders
With a growing emphasis on the Church's pro-life teachings in Catholic education and demand for pro-life curricula, Catholic schools have the opportunity to become indispensable “vehicles” in the pro-life movement, said The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Jamie Arthur.

Catholic Schools Must Place Learning in Light of Christ, Says President of Austrian Catholic College
Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau, the president of the International Theological Institute (ITI) in Trumau, Austria, recently wrote an article for Plough magazine, titled “What’s the Point of Christian Education: Preparing Children for the Freedom – and Cost –of Discipleship”. In it he discussed faithful education and explained how stories of persecution and martyrdom can teach children critical lessons.*****Stories of Christian martyrdom show children “the reality of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world” and communicate lessons of discipleship, faithfulness, and formation, argued Alting von Geusau, who also founded the Schola Thomas Morus high school in Austria.

“[W]e must foster in children the desire to pursue the truth with a listening heart, one that applies reason and is guided by a living faith,” Alting von Geusau, asserted in his piece. “Our families, our schools, and our churches should all be places where children receive this kind of formation – an education that sets all we learn and do in the light of Christ.”

Discipleship is primarily a friendship with Christ that serves as a foundation for the rest of one’s life, he explained. Through this relationship students can learn to see others as Christ sees them and to develop virtuous human friendships.

University of St. Thomas in Houston Offers Sports and Music Camps This Summer
Athletes ages four and older are invited to participate in one of the Celts Sports Camps for basketball, volleyball, or soccer. UST will also offer a variety of quality music camps for students entering grades three through twelve.

High Tuition of Catholic Schools Presents Challenge to Families, Says Author
The rising tuition costs of private Catholic schools has made it difficult for families to provide spiritual formation to children while maintaining their financial stability, but parents can consider alternate avenues, such as classical schools.

Catholic Univ. Summer Programs Give High School Students Jumpstart for College
The summer experience is built to allow students to participate in CUA's engineering, drama, or architecture programs, get a taste for college life, and enjoy recreational activities in the nation's capital.

Mount St. Mary’s Offers Young Student-Athletes Chance to Experience College Athletics
The camps allow students to develop their skills, meet other athletes, and experience life on a college campus. Soccer and basketball programs are being offered for both boys and girls, as well as baseball and lacrosse camps for boys.

Bishop Points to Concerns with Common Core Standards, Says He Cannot Endorse Them
Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon has responded to growing alarm regarding the Common Core State Standards and their impact on Catholic education.

Catholic School Launches Campaign to Pray One Million Hail Marys for Pope’s Safety
The prayer campaign quickly spread throughout the school community and now to the St. Charles Catholic and Brother Martin diocesan high schools. More than 730,000 Hail Marys have been recorded so far, the Clarion Herald reported at the time of publication.

Congress Needs to Overturn Unconstitutional D.C. Laws, Say Heritage Foundation Scholars
Congress has a responsibility to stop two unconstitutional bills due to their potential to severely impede religious freedom in the District of Columbia, Ryan Anderson and Sarah Torre contend in a recent issue brief from The Heritage Foundation.

Ghanaian Bishops Encourage Catholic Schools to Maintain Traditions, Practices
Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu of Konongo-Mampong in Ghana, along with the other Ghanaian bishops, is defending the Catholic identity of Catholic schools in the face of threats to their religious freedom.

Respect Archdiocese’s Right to Protect Catholic Identity of Schools, Argue Policy Experts
Catholic schools have a right to ensure that Catholic teaching is being properly maintained in their institutions and the government should not coerce them to do otherwise, argued a recent piece published by The Wall Street Journal.

Catholic Education Must Develop a Love of Singing, Liturgy in Students
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry contended in a recent Patheos article that Catholic education has a unique duty to impart a love of art and beauty to students and that this could be accomplished through encouraging enthusiastic involvement in liturgical singing.

San Francisco Catholic School Teachers Sign Petition against Morality Clauses
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been working to protect and promote the Catholic identity of schools in the archdiocese, but some Catholic high school teachers are stirring up controversy.

Cardinal Wuerl: Catholics Should Speak up for Faith amidst Religious Freedom Attacks
This Lent gives Catholics a perfect opportunity to defend the faith, argued Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington in a recent post critiquing the double standard presented by two Washington, D.C., laws attacking the religious freedom of Catholic schools.

Archbishop Cordileone Won’t Back Down on Efforts to Strengthen Catholic Schools
Despite negative reactions, Archbishop Cordileone as a shepherd "knows the wolves and is not afraid to confront them," argued The Cardinal Newman Society's Gerri Downing Laird in a recent piece at Crisis Magazine.

Oakland Bishop Issues Updated Contracts, Teachers Must Act in Accord with Catholic Teaching
This new revision is part of a growing trend among Catholic dioceses to ensure the Catholic identity of their educational institutions by giving teachers clear guidance regarding moral conduct.

Archbishop Cordileone a ‘True Shepherd of Catholic Schools,’ Argues Newman Society’s Bob Laird
Despite severe criticism, Archbishop Cordileone is taking a stand and helping Catholic schools fulfill their true mission, argued Bob Laird, vice president for program development at The Cardinal Newman Society, in his San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

Classic Literature Crucial to Academic Formation, Argue Experts at Faithful Colleges
Exposure to classical literature remains one of the most significant sources of academic formation for children, academic experts from two Newman Guide-recommended colleges recently told the National Catholic Register.

Pope Francis Speaks with Young People Online as Part of Education Initiative
Pope Francis recently held a Google Hangout session with handicapped young people across the world in conjunction with his education project, Scholas Occurrentes, a global project dedicated to promoting peace and education to children everywhere.

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