Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

September 14, 2015

Pope Francis's Challenge

I found Pope Francis’s announcement of annulment reforms to be a remarkable lesson in re-examining a paradigm and making a tough, unpopular choice. In reforming the annulment process, Pope Francis has challenged a policy whose purpose has changed and proven to interfere with the overarching purpose of the church itself.

His leadership style should cause us all to reexamine the policies and procedures of our schools to ascertain whether our policies all support our overarching purpose (e.g. to give students an experience of God’s love through a caring, excellent learning community).

The Church has made policies about marriages and annulments in order to promote the sanctity of marriage which they hope will lead to the salvation of more souls. Over time, the promotion of marriage, difficulties of annulments, and rules about divorced Catholics have begun to interfere with the overarching purpose of the Church.

The Church’s aim, after all, is to save souls. What we have seen transpire over the last 50 years in the United States is the proliferation of divorce, single parents, and complicated family arrangements. There is almost universal agreement that the ideal situation for children is to be raised by two parents who are committed to each other. But what happens when that can’t happen? When one parent leaves (emotionally and/or physically)? When a parent “checks out” due to pressure, immaturity, etc.? Should we work with the myriad realities or should we push policies and rules which celebrate an ideal at the risk of ostracizing others?

The emphasis on the ideal (committed marriage) has led to annulments being impossible to incredibly tedious. The hope, I believe, was that the difficulty of annulments and the subsequent sacramental difficulties would discourage divorce and encourage commitment to marriage. But annulments have become humiliating in many circumstances. And the rules about non-sacramental marriages have caused real and perceived separation from the Church. This has caused pain and has caused many people to leave the church.

Pope Francis had the courage to see when a policy’s purpose (to promote marriage) conflicting with the overarching purpose of his organization (to save more souls) and thus to take bold action to modify that policy.

I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t other policies enacted in our schools which have been kept by tradition but serve to torpedo the overarching aim of our schools. Pope Francis has challenged us all to be courageous and reexamine those unnecessary policies.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: WCEA Secondary meetings (Los Angeles)

Tuesday: WCEA Elementary meetings (LA)

Wednesday: Chancery meetings (Helena)

Thursday: Chancery meetings (Great Falls) & NWEA teleconference

Friday: office (Helena)

This week: 220 driving miles/ 1,173 air miles

Last week: 928 driving miles/ 1,173 air miles

2015-16: 3,100 driving miles/ 1,173 air miles

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. Reminder that Jean is expecting you to RSVP the names of the staff members who wish to take the "Old Testament Themes" class which was last year's Marian class. She will also need to know who will be attending in person and who will be attending virtually and whether they are taking the class for OPI hours or graduate credit. The Marian class will be held at 10 am on Sep 25th in Helena. For those who request a "virtual" class, we'll be setting up a account.
  2. Jean will be emailing you this week for a signup form for October's Marian class ("Themes of the New Testament").
  3. Reminder that on Thursday, Sep 17th we'll be hosting the MAP administration teleconference at 3:30 pm. The phone call will be led by a NWEA employee and she will be giving suggestions and sharing best practices. Webinar link:

    Phone number: 888-827-6039

    Passcode: 54638152#

  4. The WCEA visiting team training will be held on Friday, Sep 25th at 2:00 pm (and should last approx 90 minutes). The training will also be available virtually. The following teachers & principals need to attend in person or virtually: Julanne Gauger, Nora Crossen, Ruth Ficaro, Bambi Van Dyke, Tim Lowe, Julia Lynch, Bart Freese, Jake Gion, Trish Coronado, Kim O'Leary, Mary Byrne, Kris Warren, Sarah Stevens, Mike O'Brien, Eric Vincent, Bianca Rock Above, Michelle Charlesworth, Jim Stanton, Catherine Kirchner, Anne Anderson, Garla Williamson, Michael Hairsine, Mary Lague, and Sarah Zook.
  5. The Diocese of Helena is conducting healing services in each region. School principals are asked to attend and to publicize this event so that teachers, staff members, students, and parents are all invited.
  6. Take a look at next year's schedule. We're now looking at August 15th and 16th for the New Teacher Retreat.
  7. Catholic Mutual has asked me to remind you of the two safety surveys (the first deadline is October 15th) and two additional videos to watch in order to earn your school additional $$$. Instructions can be found online at the Catholic Mutual site. If you need password and login information, please contact the Catholic Schools Office.

American Catholic News

Challenges of US Catholic Church which Pope Francis Will Confront

Financial difficulties of dioceses:

US Catholic Church struggling to keep Hispanics:

Canonization of Bl. Juniperro Serra has drawn criticism:

Reflection on Eucharist, Annulments, and Povery

From the Global Sisters Report, a reflection from the field about the meaning of Eucharist and the changes to annulments procedures--from the perspective of the Third World.

Leadership Links

Great Leadership Blogs

  1. George Couros:
  2. Tony Sinaris:

Teaching & Instruction

Formative Assessment Ideas

53 (!) Ways to Check for understanding:

Classroom Management Ideas

The Two-Step:


Reflections on Parenting

The Best Gift a Father Can Give His Children:

How to Raise a Moral Child: