Catholic School Matters

March 26, 2017

SPECIAL ISSUE: Undocumented Immigrants

One of the most disturbing items coming out of the recent spate of immigration crackdowns is the break-up of families. This new focus puts economic skills above keeping families together. The impact of these crackdowns has been palpable in the Hispanic community as the most vulnerable are targeted. As videos spread of ICE raids, fear has increased among the American-born and foreign-born Hispanic population alike.

I sense that many white Catholics have acquiesced to this policy, wrapping themselves in the “law and order” defense. But our leaders have not. Cardinal Tobin led a rally protesting a deportation, Cardinal Cupich issued directives banning ICE from churches and schools, Bishop McElroy criticized the federal government’s policies and called for widespread opposition to deportations, and the American bishops along the border issued a statement on immigration. Archbishop Gomez, who has traditionally been considered culturally conservative, is speaking out against the strict new policies. These leaders understand the value of reassuring Hispanics of their support.

Bishop McElroy’s statement pointed out that there are 200 thousand undocumented Catholics in his Diocese. His pastoral impulse is to shepherd his flock. But he has received flak from politically conservative Catholics in his Diocese. Just as the Irish and Polish immigrants changed the American Catholic church, Hispanic immigration holds the key to the future of American Catholicism and Catholic schools, too.

As church attendance and Catholic school enrollments have fallen, the number of young Catholics have swollen due to the Hispanic population. For example, there are 12.4 million school-age Hispanics in the US. If 10% of that population were to enroll in Catholic schools, the total current enrollment would double.

If you want to read a scholarly report discussing these issues, Boston College’s “Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church” is the gold standard. Published last year, the report describes the context and offers solutions to attracting and retaining Hispanic students in order to build a stronger church.

In the spirit of solidarity, Catholic schools should be offering resources to immigrants like the Justice for Immigrants project of the USCCB. There is now an app for undocumented immigrants to assist in dealing with deportation issues. In Los Angeles, the Catholic schools offered a FAQ to principals about the immigration issues similar to the one offered in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The LA Archdiocese is co-sponsoring information nights. Why can’t we do more? In Sacramento, for example, the public school system launched a program to assist undocumented families. Catholic schools could and should be offering more explicit support to undocumented immigrants in order to show solidarity and continue to welcome their Hispanic brethren.

Want to learn more? On Monday’s podcast, I’ll interview Dr. Luis Fraga from Notre Dame and on Thursday’s podcast, I’ll interview Dr. Hosffman Ospino from Boston College. These two Hispanic Catholic scholars share insights on the growing influence of the Hispanic population and their role in the Church. Here is a preview link to Dr. Fraga’s podcast and to Dr. Ospino’s podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

This week, I have two great podcasts for your listening pleasure! Both episodes focus on Hispanic Catholic issues. Tomorrow, Episode #37 is in interview with Dr. Luis Fraga of Notre Dame. Luis and I discuss the impact and influence of Hispanics on American life.

On Thursday, Episode #38 is an interview with the scholar of American Hispanic Catholic life, Dr. Hosffman Ospino of Boston College. Hosffman and I discuss Catholic schools, the growing influence of Hispanics, and the future.

Last week there were two great podcasts for your listening and educational pleasure. Episode #35 is in interview with Jill Kafka, the Executive Director of the Partnership Schools in New York City. Episode #35 is an interview with the one and only Joe Womac, the Executive Director of the Specialty Family Foundation in Los Angeles, which supports struggling inner-city schools in Los Angeles.

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: Jill Kafka's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni
  • THURSDAY: Joe Womac podcast
  • FRIDAY: Undocumented immigrants

This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:

  • TUESDAY: Dr. Fraga's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • FRIDAY: Dr. Ospino's podcast

You can find and subscribe to the blog at

The Week Ahead

Monday: Great Falls meetings

Tuesday: Missoula & Butte meetings

Wed: Day 3 of St. Mary's WCEA visit (Livingston)

Thurs: Helena meetings

Fri: Great Falls meetings

Next week: 841 driving miles

Last week: 1,122 driving miles; 4,290 air miles

2016-17: 27,129 driving miles; 23,396 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg (underway)
  2. No One Way to School: Pluralism and American Public Education by Ashley Rogers Berner
  3. Back Blast by Mark Greaney
  4. Architects of Catholic Culture by Timothy Cook
  5. Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of an American Town by Brian Alexander
  6. Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning by Lindsay Unified School District
  7. Spillover by David Quammen
  8. Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman
  9. The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
  10. Weathering the Storm: Moving Catholic Schools Forward by DeFiore, Convey, & Schuttloffel
  11. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
  12. Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido
  13. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni
  14. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
  15. Stall Points by Matthew S. Olson & Derek van Bever
  16. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  17. Why Don't Kids Like School? by Daniel Willingham
  18. Tom Clancy: Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney
  19. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam
  20. The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  21. Reading with the daughter: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (7 books)
  22. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  23. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey
  24. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  25. The Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps
  26. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
  27. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
  28. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman
  29. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour
  30. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  31. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley
  32. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor

For Principals & Teachers

  1. The Justice for Immigration project of the USCCB offers resources for undocumented immigrants.
  2. Montana's DEQ has provided a great resource on lead in drinking water in schools.
  3. Are you ready for ESSA? Here is a link to a massive amount of new documents. ESSA has not been repealed and it's time to get ready! Here's more guidance from the USCCB.
  4. Principal/President evaluation surveys have gone out to the following schools: Billings Catholic Schools, Butte Catholic Schools, Holy Spirit, Missoula Catholic Schools, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart, St. Mary's, and St. Matt's. If you are a teacher, staff member, or Advisory Council member and have not received the survey, contact your principal/president.
  5. Reminder that March 30th is the deadline for all Safe Environment reports in the Diocese of Great-Falls Billings. Please submit to Laurie Horton at the Chancery.
  6. We have secured funding for all of our teachers to spend the night in Butte so that we can hold the Fall Professional Conference in one place! The Sophia Institute will be offering catechetical professional development on Thursday, Oct 19th and then we'll kick off the conference that night with Jonathan Doyle. We'll have Mass together on Friday morning and then will hear from Jonathan again and then we'll have breakout sessions.
  7. On the Horizon:
  • St. Mary's WCEA visit: March 27-29
  • Regional principal meetings: April 10 (GF), 11 (Missoula), 12 (Billings).