Catholic School Matters

August 21, 2016

Schools as Field Hospitals

We were blessed last week to hear Doug Tooke, the incomparable youth minister/speaker from the Diocese of Helena. Tooke used Pope Francis’s metaphor of Catholic schools as field hospitals, triaging the needs of our students. He compared the Catholic schools to MASH units—messy, concerned with stabilizing and serving the needs of those most in need. For all of us conditioned to think of schools and parishes as stable institutions where people come to be served, he challenged us to meet our students where they are to accompany them on their journeys of faith.


There’s no question that students (of any age) can be difficult to accompany at time. There’s no value in blaming parents or parishes for the lack of religious formation, said Tooke. Our call is to meet our students like Hawkeye and Hunnicut did in their field hospital. Figure out what needs to be done, get it done, and send them along.


He also challenged teachers and principals to think of themselves as evangelizers, committed to building enthusiasm among students. He challenged us all to examine our prayer lives and our spiritual vocabularies. As Tooke pointed out, it’s almost too easy to find an app to engage in spirituality. “Find something to add scripture and reflection to your busy life,” he said.


The main tool for building up one’s prayer life is prayer. Tooke talked about the need to build the vocabulary and practice of prayer among young people. For a great discussion, check out Roy Petitfils’ podcast entitled “Today’s Teenager.” Roy spoke to our new teachers last year and just last week he interviewed Tooke on his podcast. It’s a great listen.


On the last day, Tooke spoke to the new teachers about burnout. Burnout is real among church ministers and it’s no different for teachers. Long hours, low pay, social isolation all are present in teaching. Finding and cultivating friendships in order to recharge our batteries is imperative, said Tooke.


On to our field hospitals!


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: Great Falls Central Catholic HS Advisory Council (Great Falls)

Tuesday: Missoula Catholic Schools faculty orientation & St. Mary's Adv Council (Livingston)

Wednesday: St. Paul Mission School & St. Jude visits (Hays, Havre)

Thursday: Our Lady of Lourdes & Holy Spirit meeting (Great Falls)

Friday: Billings meetings


This week: 1,568 miles

Last week: 1,308 miles

2016-17: 3,743 miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  2. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  3. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatlet (finished)
  4. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. The "Going Deeper" faith formation program is right around the corner. Jonathan Doyle made a special video for principals which I showed last Tuesday. The plan is that the company will email the principals on September 6th and then principals will need to share that email link with their respective staffs. This is a change from what I had thought--every employee will not be getting a direct email. They sent me a "Best Practices" video. Here is the link. If you would like to know more about the program, here is a link.
  2. The Safe Environment program in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings has caused a number of questions. First, all returning employees need to log in and watch the "Professional Boundaries" class. They won't all receive reminders from the system so we need to take it upon ourselves to remind them. Second, the LIFE program can be utilized in the classroom if you didn't find success with the parent programs. If you log into the portal, you'll find the necessary training for teachers. We'll need to complete this by March 1st so please don't wait too long to get started.
  3. The NCEA is offering a webinar on Compassionate Discipline on August 23rd at two times. If bullying is an issue in your school, this is worth your attention. Here is more information
  4. The "Culture of Life" Conference is coming up in Helena. Sponsored by the Montana Catholic Conference, the speakers will include Cardinal DiNardo of Houston, Camille Pauley, and others. September 9-10. The conference should hold interest of educators as well as students. Here is a link to the flyer.

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