Catholic School Matters

January 29, 2017

Catholic Schools Week

It’s Catholic Schools Week! Start by reading Bishop George Murry’s interview in Crux. Bishop Murry is the Chair of NCEA’s Board of Directors and is the incoming chairman of the USCCB’s committee on education. A Jesuit, he has experience with schools and has a clear vision of confronting the realities and planning for the future. He is also the guest on the Catholic School Matters podcast tomorrow. Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes.

Speaking of the podcast, this week I’ll be presenting one podcast per day this week: tomorrow’s guest will be Bishop Murry; Tuesday’s guest will be Dr. Dan Guernsey of the Cardinal Newman Society, who will talk about Cardinal Newman's new approach to Catholic schools; Wednesday’s guest will be Rebeca Bautista of the Archdiocese of Miami’s Virtual School, who will describe this innovative new venture; Thursday will be Fr. Brian O’Brien, the president of Tulsa’s Bishop Kelley HS, who will discuss how and why to promote vocations in your school; and Friday’s guest will be Doug Tooke from the Diocese of Helena sharing his thoughts on what youth ministry can teach us in Catholic education.

The second thing you should read this week is from Dr. Hosffman Ospino and Dr. Patty Weitzel-O’Neill in NCEA’s Momentum winter issue entitled “Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church.”

Finally, watch this video about Missoula Catholic Schools. It will get you fired up for Catholic schools!

In a future podcast, Dr. Ospino from Boston College shared the puzzling statistic that there are nearly 15 million school-age Catholic children—8 million of which are Hispanic. Yet only 2 million students are enrolled in Catholic schools—only 300 thousand of which are Hispanic. Yet Catholic schools continue to close and enrollments decline. If this situation doesn’t puzzle you, you’re not paying attention.

I’m not a masochist or a pessimist. However, it’s important to recognize that the following are the links to Catholic school closings and consolidations that I have come across and published this year:

1. Closures: Boston’s last all-girls high school closed in summer of 2016, Connecticut elementary school closes 2 weeks before opening, Kennedy HS in St. Louis to close at end of year, St. Elizabeth HS in Oakland to close, reopen at Cristo Rey HS, Erie Elementary school to close, Pittsfield (MA) high school, Baltimore to close 3 elementary schools, 2 elementary schools in St. Louis slated for closure, Leavenworth (KS) high school to close, 2 suburban Chicago elementary schools, East Dubuque HS, Chicago suburban all-girls HS, 5 Oakland elementary schools.

2. Regionalization plans (which usually result in closures) are scheduled for Pittsburgh, Fall River, Duluth, North St. Louis County, and Bridgeport.

3. Mergers (which mean at least one fewer school: two Miami high schools, Baltimore to merge 2 schools, 3 Pennsylvania schools to merge into one, 2 Jacksonville schools to merge.

As Bishop Murry says, we need to confront our brutal realities and build new strategies for sharing the good news about what we do.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Tomorrow will begin a week of podcasts in celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

  • Monday's episode (#21) will include an interview with Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, the chair of the NCEA Board of Directors. He will discuss the state of Catholic schools in the United States.
  • Tuesday's episode (#22) is an interview with Dr. Dan Guernsey of the Cardinal Newman Society. Dr. Guernsey discusses their efforts to establish Catholic curricular standards to supplement basic standards such as the Common Core.
  • Wednesday's episode (#23) is an interview with Rebeca Bautista of the Archdiocese of Miami's Virtual School, an innovative and growing venture.
  • Thursday's episode (#24) is an interview with Fr. Brian O'Brien of Tulsa's Bishop Kelley High School. We discuss how to promote vocations in Catholic schools.
  • Friday's episode (#25) is an interview with Doug Tooke of Helena, Montana. Doug is a renowned youth minster and he discusses what youth ministry can teach Catholic schools.

Last week, Episode #20 dropped and included an interview with John Eriksen of the Drexel Fund. John discusses the philanthropic efforts of the Drexel Fund and investing in the future of Catholic schools

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

Last week, Dr. Uhl blogged about:

  • TUESDAY: Reflections on John Eriksen's podcast.
  • WEDNESDAY: The Wednesday Book Blog: Song of the Dodo by David Quammen. Does the study of island biogeography and extinction apply to Catholic schools?
  • FRIDAY: "Vouchers & School Choice"

This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:

  • MONDAY: Bishop Murry's podcast on the state of Catholic Schools
  • TUESDAY: Dr. Dan Guernsey podcast on the role of the Cardinal Newman Society
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen
  • THURSDAY: Fr. Brian O'Brien's podcast on promoting vocations to the priesthood
  • FRIDAY: "Catholic Schools Week"

You can find and subscribe to the blog at

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena) & Great Falls meetings

Tuesday: visit to St. Paul Mission Grade School (Hays)

Wed: MGS visit (cont) & Billings meetings

Thurs: visit to Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy (St. Xavier)

Fri: All-School Mass at Billings Central (Bilings)

Sat: St. Matthew's Auction (Kalispell)

Next week: 1,436 miles

Last week: 510 miles

2016-17: 21,860 driving miles; 14,376 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Missoula by Jon Krakauer.
  2. Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido. (finished)
  3. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni. (finished)
  4. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (finished)
  5. Stall Points by Matthew S. Olson & Derek van Bever (finished)
  6. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (finished)
  7. Why Don't Kids Like School? by Daniel Willingham (finished)
  8. Tom Clancy: Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney (finished)
  9. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam (finished)
  10. The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (finished)
  11. Reading with the daughter: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (7 books, finished).
  12. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (finished)
  13. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey (finished)
  14. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (finished)
  15. The Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps (finished)
  16. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (finished)
  17. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  18. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  19. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  20. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  21. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  22. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

For Principals & Teachers

  1. There are 20 free subscriptions to Bishop Barron's "Word on Fire" Catholicism School Enrichment program. The first 20 teachers to contact the superintendent will earn this subscription.
  2. Interested in serving on a WCEA team? We have only one elementary visit next year. St. Joe's (Missoula) will be hosting a team October 1-4. Please email Dr. Uhl if you're interested.
  3. Interested in pursuing a Master's in Educational Leadership with a focus on Catholic education? Loyola Marymount is offering a special program and scholarship money is available from Catholic Extension.
  4. Here is the link to the Principal Portal and you can find the meeting slideshow link from last week's Virtual meetings.
  5. On the Horizon:
  • 7th/8th grade days at the legislature Feb 24th
  • Loyola Sacred Heart WCEA visit: March 15-17
  • St. Paul MGS WCEA visit: March 19-21
  • St. Mary's WCEA visit: March 27-29
  • Regional principal meetings: April 10 (GF), 11 (Missoula), 12 (Billings).

American Catholic News

Corner Booth Media Presents: Missoula Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools Closing, Consolidating, and Opening

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


Mary's Room: A philosophical thought experiment - Eleanor Nelsen