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Bishop: “Be Shameless” About Catholic Identity

Atchison, Kansas, is one of few small towns nationwide that offers elementary-through college Catholic education. Atchison, Kansas, is one of few small towns nationwide that offers elementary-through college Catholic education.

“The Catholic Identity of Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools” at CUA had bad news and Good News about Catholic schools, according to a Catholic News Service report.

The bad news: too few students and too many costs are shutting down or crippling many schools.

The good news: school officials have a documented, easy solution at hand: Become more Catholic.

Or, as Trenton, N.J., Bishop David O’Connell put it, the “Good News” is the good news.

The former president of The Catholic University, said it was ultimately the job of the bishops to enforce the mission of Catholic schools. Ultimately, that mission  is to “proclaim the good news” and provide a “place to encounter God.” The mission has been the same “since Jesus told his disciples to go and teach all nations.”

Noted Catholic News Service:

Bishop O’Connell noted that this kind of dedication isn’t just for religion classes either, but something that needs to take place throughout the curriculum, on the playground, and in faculty and parent meetings. He said teachers and administrators set this tone and thus advised school administrators to hire teachers who believe in the school’s mission and to follow up with faith formation training programs and support to these teachers during the year. He also said bishops should be visiting the schools in their dioceses to make sure the ‘faith-oriented needs are met’ and should make the decision to close a school only as a last resort.

“It is the administrator in the Catholic school that must lead the charge,” he said.

During the question-and answer session, Bishop O’Connell was asked what to do if parents don’t seem to want a stronger Catholic identity.

Said O’Connell: “be shameless about promoting Catholic education.”

 

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes is vice president of college relations at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer and then spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. He writes weekly for Catholic Vote, the National Catholic Register and Aleteia. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Catholic Digest. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and nine children.