Catholic School Matters

February 3, 2019

NCEA Convention Preview

Fresh off of Catholic Schools Week, we should all be feeling great about our schools. Before that great feeling wears off, remember that Catholic Schools can tend to become isolating. We all subscribe to a certain degree to the principle of subsidiarity—meaning that as many decisions should be made at the local level. We all celebrate our agility and faithfulness to our own communities and cultures. But in so doing, we risk isolating our teachers and principals on lonely islands.

One possible solution is the NCEA Convention. By far the best thing that NCEA produces every year, this gathering of 10k Catholic educators is a chance to celebrate, develop new connections, and learn in solidarity with fellow Catholic educators all around the country.

Now is the time to make the commitment to the convention in Chicago April 23-25. There’s a great lineup of speakers, exhibitors, and liturgy to feed your brain and your soul. On this Wednesday’s podcast, I spotlight one NCEA leader (Matt Russell) who offers a convention overview, two great presenters (Roy Petitfils and Mike Patin) who are both well-travelled Catholic speakers and inspiring models of faith, and the keynote speaker, Dr. Ann Garrido, the professor of homiletics (!) and author of several well-known books such as Redeeming Administration.

The list of great speakers is amazing: Jodee Blanco, Sr. Nancy Usselman, Ken Willers, Jennifer Trefelner, John Meehan, Mary Pat Donoghue, the incomparable Lincoln Snyder, and many more.

I hope you consider making the trip to convention and encouraging others to attend, too. It’s a chance to continue the momentum of Catholic Schools Week and join your fellow educators in solidarity. Here’s the link to the convention web page.

Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture

Community Engagement

  1. I'm putting together a collection of scenarios of Catholic leadership as a means to teach Catholic leaders how to develop their own moral leadership compass. I'll preview a scenario each month and ask you to submit any ideas of Catholic school leadership moral dilemmas to This issue's example:
  2. A recent graduate of your high school was charged with negligent homicide for a drunk driving accident which killed 3 people, including a mother and her child. Supporters of the graduate maintain his innocence due to a question of who was driving. They are hoping to hold a fundraiser for him, a minor celebrity football player at the local college. Others are hoping the school will make an example of him by highlighting his poor choices. Complicating matters is the fact that he had drawn attention by opposing the kneeling of some of his teammates during the national anthem.

American Catholic News

Catholic Schools Closing, Opening & Merging

  1. Merged schools in Great Falls announce new name & mission statement
  2. Reading, Ohio Catholic school in danger of closing

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


What I'm Up To

After spending last week following Bishop Warfel (pictured at right at St. Francis Xavier Church in St. Xavier, Montana) around Eastern Montana, this week I'll spend the first three days in and around the office recording a few podcasts, conducting virtual meetings, joining the Reform Leaders Summit PLC video call, and generally getting caught up after being on the road the past two weeks. Then on Thursday I head to Guam for a 7-day visit where I'll chair two school's accreditation visits and enjoy island hospitality.

On this week's podcast, I am previewing the NCEA Convention April 23-25. First, Matt Russell gives an overview of the convention. Then author, podcaster, and speaker Roy Petitfils previews his two talks and describes his work. Mike Patin then describes his two presentations as well as his ministry. Dr. Ann Garrido, the keynote speaker at Convention, discusses the messages she hopes to convey to Catholic educators and explains her fervent quest to see all 50 states before she is 50 (among other things!).

Here is the link to the podcast. Here are videos showing you how to download and subscribe to a podcast on iTunes and how to download and subscribe a podcast on Android.

  • Monday: Office (Helena); record podcast with Dr. Massimo Faggioli
  • Tuesday: Office (Helena); virtual admin meetings 9 am & 1 pm
  • Wednesday: Office (Helena); RLS video call & Billings School Board
  • Thursday: Travel to Guam
  • Friday: Arrive in Guam

Miles this week: 11 driving miles; 8,204 air miles

Miles travelled in 2018-19: 22,678 road miles; 42,352 air miles

Last 5 Books

  1. American Grace: How American Religion Divides and Unites Us (2012) by Robert D. Putnam & David E. Campbell
  2. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2001) by Robert D. Putnam.
  3. Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life (2014) by Nancy Tatom Ammerman
  4. Timothy O'Connell's Tend Your Own Garden: Sharing Our Core Values, Good People Make Tough Choices: Facing Everyday Value Conflicts, and Let Your Spirit Breathe: Living a Value-Based Life
  5. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (1999) by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, & Sheila Heen

Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

  • Here is the slideshow for the Feb 5th Virtual Admin Meeting
  • Administrator letters of intent can be found here
  • Information here on the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings Safe Environment education program for students (and deadlines)
  • We are currently looking for a principal for Holy Spirit Catholic School in Great Falls and for a president of Missoula Catholic Schools

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

January 27, 2019 "Catholic Schools Week"

January 20, 2019 "School Choice"

January 13, 2019 "What's Your Story?"

January 6, 2018 "Happy New Year"

December 2, 2018 "Building Community"

November 18, 2018 "Reframing Enrollment"

November 4, 2018 "Looking at Disaffiliation"

October 21, 2018 "Getting out of the Ditch"

October 7, 2018 "Truth, Mercy, and the Synod"

September 23, 2018 "Native American Experience"

September 16, 2018 "How Are We Forming our Leaders?"

September 9, 2018 "Where is Your Attention?"