Tag Archives: Catholic education

When true friendship effects change…

In June Dale Kuehne wrote a blog post “Change that believes in me” that speaks to the journey of taking a teaching position at Saint Anslem College (Manchester, NH) which is run by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey there. He doesn’t say it this way, but I do believe he points to something deeper than mere colleagueship: friendship. Perhaps all of us need to think more deeply what our friendships mean and how seriously we engage in them. I recommend this Dale Kuehne’s post….

Supporting Catholic Schools

This morning the Archbishop of Hartford, Henry J. Mansell hosted what has become the annual Columbus Day Breakfast to provide scholarship grants to students attending Catholic elementary schools in greater New Haven. The Archbishop assisted by the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools helped us to look with fresh eyes at the need for Catholic education in greater New Haven. I am very happy to have been invited to attend this morning’s breakfast.

Some thoughts though… It was a good networking opportunity but something was missing, the reason why we dragged ourselves out of bed to have breakfast with people vaguely known but connected through our concern for Catholic education: Jesus Christ and our friendship with Him. While we are all very grateful for the $60K raised for Catholic elementary students, the absence of noting who sustains our efforts and why we are at all interested in Catholic education was for me problematic. Do-gooders are well-meaning; they can be helpful and advancing a good mission such as education. Yet, as I mentioned to a friend, I don’t care about Catholic education or any other program if we’re not helping each other seek a relationship with Jesus and try to live as Catholics (Christians, if you will). It is not a “what” that sustains our efforts in education but a “who” –it is Jesus Christ. “Remember Him,” I’d like to say?
I agree that “An education would be most impoverished if it were limited to providing notions and information and neglected the important question about truth, especially that truth which can be a guide in life” (Benedict XVI, January 21, 2008). That truth is none other than unique offer of love and salvation given to us by the Lord. It is the pursuit of Truth that makes education, formal or informal, worth it. Everything else pales. 
Anthony Cernera, President of Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT) spoke well of remembering the past and dreaming for the future. When we remember the past we hold in ourselves an attitude of gratitude for graces received. When we dream we look forward in hope for realization of the desires of the heart given by God Himself. If the Church is correct, then those who believe in Christ are obligated to hope, to live concretely in the present yet looking to the fulfillment of the promises God has made personally with each of us. Catholic education is indeed in a difficult place today with the great divorce of remembering and dreaming, faith and reason, and faith and justice. SO, yes, support Catholic education because as Mansell said, “Our schools not only provide a rigorous curriculum, but also an education for a lifetime….”

Catholic education: where is it going and why?

The Catholic school system in the US has been in a very desperate shape for years: acute and chronic money problems, lack of good, solidly trained Catholic teachers and administrators, a coherent vision of Catholic education as it interfaces with the charism of the religious order/diocese operating the school, building & grounds in near of repair, low endowments, etc. Then there is the assessment of what is purported to constitute a Catholic school: poor formation in the faith, the arts & humanites and science suffer, good use of current technologies, and engagement with people who do things differently, engagement with the vulnerable and culture of life, etc. Many, many Catholic schools don’t offer the Sacrifice of the Mass on a weekly basis for the students; and very few of them that I am familiar with offer reliable guidance and formation of the faculty and parents. In my book, if the bishop rarely shows up and the pastor visits the school only when there is crisis. then the problem is more acute.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a product of a lot years Catholic education and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my time in the Catholic schools I attended but I can see the gaping holes in education and experience. I also believe that the Church needs excellent schools and formation programs.

Five exceptions to this critical view may be the five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport recently named “Blue Ribbon” by the US Dept of Ed. But for these success stories in Catholic Education there are thousands of others pointing to major problems.

Today, there is an article in Time that speaks to a corrective of what is noted above. The dynamic Mr. Ekicsen is asking the right questions and seeking reasonable solutions. The bishop of Patterson made an excellent choice in hiring Eriksen and I pray his project thrives. It will –the saints are behind him. Read about the Eriksen initiative…

I think of a few things that are contributing to a renewal of Catholic eduation in the US: 1) Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education; 2) the Ed Conference; 3) UND’s ACE program; and 4) Dwight Longenecker’s booklet The Risk of Faith; 5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of reality because I know there are plenty of more good programs/schools out there so please forward the names to me.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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