Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

January 11, 2016

Why are Catholic Schools Closing?

This is the time of year that Catholic dioceses begin to announce their closures for next year. There's an article below, for example, which details the demise of 3 Catholic schools in Chicago. The number of Catholic schools closing far surpasses the number opening. The NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) presents these statistics: In the 10 years since the 2005 school year, 1,648 schools were reported closed or consolidated (21.1%), while 336 school openings were reported. The number of students declined by 481,016 (19.9%).

Why? Certainly we can look at economic factors (decline in number of teaching sisters who provided low-cost labor; the cost of running schools has increased, etc.), demographic factors (smaller families, shifts in population away from older parishes), the advent of charter schools; as well as the fact that the kind of nativism (anti-Catholic sentiment) which spurred the development of schools (and the passing of laws such as Blaine Amendments) has disappeared. What is often overlooked, however, is the sense of mission and purpose. And of all the things listed in this paragraph, this is one item that we can influence and control.

No matter where you fall in the conservative/liberal spectrum of church politics (or rather, in the ecclesial spectrum), it's not difficult to see that the past 50 years have been difficult for the American Catholic church. As different views have emerged about the priorities of the church, many Catholic schools have suffered from neglect and de-prioritization. And as the schools have lost their appeal, it has compounded the financial and enrollment struggles.

Catholic Schools Week allows our schools to rediscover, articulate, and proclaim our purpose--to provide an excellent education of mind, heart, and soul. Heaven prep as well as college prep, as some schools say. This week can not only engage new parents, it can also re-engage supporters. This is one of the best weeks of the year as our students look forward to the celebrations. I encourage you to seek ways to embolden your staff, enliven your students, and proclaim your essence to the wider community.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Mon: fly to Omaha for Creighton U conference

Tues: Creighton University

Wed: Creighton conference; return to Helena

Thurs: St. Labre Board meeting (Billings)

Fri: St. Labre Board (cont)

This Week: 500 driving miles/ 2660 air miles

Last Week: 685 driving miles

2015-16: 13,998 driving miles/ 5,184 air miles

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. Please send me your school's activities for Catholic Schools Week so I can highlight them in a future issue
  2. If you need Bishop Warfel's schedule for Catholic Schools Week, email me
  3. We need teachers and principals to volunteer for next year's WCEA visits. Please consider joining a WCEA team. Email me directly.
  4. Virtual principal meetings are right around the corner on January 26th at 9 am and 1 pm. Principals only need to "attend" one. For the 9 am meeting: For the 1 pm meeting: The first part of the meeting will focus on the new religion standards and then we'll talk about faith formation activities.
  5. The high schools are scheduled to meet on Sunday, January 17th at 5 pm at Billings Central. We'll talk about the new E3 protocol and OPI issues.

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Interview w/ Bishop George Thomas - Story 2, Episode 4 | Catholic Extension