Catholic School Matters

April 15, 2018

The Community of Catholic Schools

Last week, I attended the NCEA Convention. I found myself drawn into conversations with old and new friends. It reminded me that Catholic education is a community beyond each individual school. As I read Pope Francis’ recent exhortation Gaudete Et Exsultate (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), I saw the connections. Many of our schools (especially those with ACE teachers!) inspire our students to aspire to heaven and college. Saints and scholars, college and heaven. Holiness is part of what we do! A common theme which the Holy Father returns to in this work is introduced in paragraph six: “No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.” Pope Francis is reminding us that we are a communion people. I’m here to remind you that Catholic schools are perhaps the purest form of a faith community that some of our students will ever experience. This call is echoed in paragraph 142: “Each community is called to create a ‘God-enlightened space in which to experience the hidden presence of the risen Lord.’”

My favorite line in the document was found in paragraph seven:

I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in the house parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them ‘the middle class of holiness.’

We are all called to holiness and we are all surrounded by holy people. Our Pope has just recognized the beauty of the common, “middle-class of holiness” and of the saints next door!

I was able to recently connect with two members of this middle class. I connected in person with Fr. Gene Merz last fall on my visit to Milwaukee. The noted Jesuit author and spiritual director and I go way back and we just hadn’t been able to connect (for the past 30 years!) via email or telephone. After that in-person visit I was able to convince him to come on the podcast. Next time you have 45 minutes, listen to this podcast conversation where we touch on what Ignatian spirituality means, the purpose and process of spiritual direction, what true leadership looks like, and many more topics. He calls us to reflect on our lives and shares his practice of praying for those we will meet in your lives. Most importantly, connecting with an old friend connects me to my former self and reminds me of who I was, what I hoped to be, and what is important.

Earlier this spring, a former student connected with me on Facebook. Anthony Berry is currently a congressional intern with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and has been accepted to the ACE Fellowship program. When I was principal of Catholic High in New Iberia, Louisiana, we developed a scholarship program for our feeder schools. Anthony was the first student we accepted from Trinity Catholic in St. Martinville—a small struggling school which has since closed. Without that scholarship, Anthony wouldn’t have been able to attend Catholic High. I had the privilege to teach Anthony in my 9th grade Honors English class and he was an outstanding student and contributor. He went on to Alabama and is graduating this spring. He will serve at St. Charles Borromeo in Harlem this fall and I hope we can keep him in Catholic education for many years to come.

Next spring, I hope you will participate in the NCEA Convention in Chicago and join the middle class of holiness!

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture

American Catholic News

Catholic School News

  1. Long-time Delaware Catholic school principal fired in March; Parents Protest the firing by penning an op-ed calling for a Board of Limited Jurisdiction; Delaware principal reinstated 11 days later.
  2. Cincinnati Public Schools might buy the Mercy High campus (great pictures!)
  3. Boston Catholic high school to close; rural Wisconsin school to close after 134 years
  4. Rochester Catholic schools considers 'reconfiguration'
  5. Massachusetts high school given a one-year reprieve
  6. Parents rally to save a Catholic school on Long Island; Parents form new independent school in Connecticut
  7. Epiphany of our Lord Cathlolic School in Katy now accepting applications. This was one of the new Catholic schools featured on the podcast.
  8. Plans underway for a new Catholic school in Acadiana.
  9. The Lincoln (NE) diocese hires a new superintendent.
  10. Two interesting job possibiliies. The soon-to-open Holy Cross High School in MIdland, Texas is looking for its founding principal. The innovative Seton Catholic Schools network in Milwaukee is looking for its first Vice President of Development to lead a $25 million capital campaign.

Leadership Links

"How Principals Really Drive School Improvement" Education Week Article by Sarah Sparks discusses research study in Chicago showing how an "opt out" school culture were more successful.

Teaching & Instruction


The Gift of Failure (by Jessica Lahey) discussion guide. This would make for a great book club/PLC! Lahey was a guest on the podcast.
Porto Charities

What I'm Up To

This week, I'll continue my efforts to meet with Principals & Presidents as part of our Evaluation process. I'm heading east to Miles City and then stopping in Billings and LIvingston on my way back. I'll have office days on Monday and Friday and then on Saturday I head to Richmond for the AdvancEd Diocesan review.

Tomorrow, my podcast conversation with Pamela Lyons, the new superintendent of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Catholic schools, will drop. It's a great conversation about leadership and change and we talk about her integration of Disney principles of customer service as well as making the Eucharist the center of each school.

Last week my conversation with Fr. Gene Merz, SJ dropped. It's a longer conversation about Ignatian spirituality, spiritual direction, authentic leadership, listening, and much more. Fr. Gene is a holy man and the conversation meanders to a different pace but it was one of my favorites. There's even a name drop of Fr. John Belmonte near the end!

The previous week was the NCEA Convention and I was able to conduct and release some interesting podcasts.

  • On Monday, I released a conversation with Dr. Melanie Verges about being a superintendent.
  • On Tuesday, I conducted a presentation at the conference where I showed people how to do a podcast and then uploaded a conversation with Dr. Raul Escarpio.
  • On Wednesday, I released my conversation with Cardinal Versaldi, the prefect of the Congregation for Education.
  • On Thursday, my conversation with Dr. Shane Martin, the current LMU Dean of Education and the future Seattle U Provost dropped.
  • OnFriday, the conversation between Tom Kiely of Marquette and myself dropped. We talked National Standards and Benchmarks and Catholic schools.

Plenty to choose from! Thanks for any help spreading the word. 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); Podcast #125: Pamela Lyons, Arch of San Francisco.
  • Tuesday: Bart Freese Evaluation meeting @ Sacred Heart in Miles City
  • Wednesday: Shaun Harrington Evaluation meeting @ Billings Central Catholic; Wed book blog: Transforming School Culture (2018, 2nd ed) by Anthony Muhammad.
  • Thursday: Cathering Kirchner Evaluation Meeting @ St. Mary's in Livingston
  • Friday: Office (Helena)
  • Saturday: Fly to Richmond

Miles this week: 843 driving miles; 1,878 air miles

Miles travelled in 2017-18: 21,679 road miles; 39,727 air miles


Summer Conferences

  1. New Directions Assessment Conference, June 18-20 Philadelphia
  2. 16th Annual Education Law Symposium July 5-8, Louisville
  3. Institute for Catholic School Leaders, July 15-18, Los Angeles
  • April 18: How Title Funding Can Help Secure Funding to Support Students
  • April 19: Classroom Learning Labs
  • April 23: Staff & PD Meetings

April Parent Engagement Flyer: Avoiding the Summer Spiritual Slide

What I'm Reading

  1. A Flock of Shepherds: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (1992) by Thomas Reese, SJ.
  2. Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church (1989) by Thomas Reese, SJ
  3. Principles (2017) by Ray Dalio
  4. Breaking Bad Habits: Defy Industry Norms and Reinvigorate Your Business (2017) by Freek Vermeulen
  5. Lost Classroom, Lost Community (2014) by Margaret F. Brinig & Nicole Stelle Garnett

Click this link for a full list of my professional reading along with links to Wed Book Blogs

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

March 25, 2018 "The Passion of St. Francis School"

March 18, 2018 "March Madness"

March 11, 2018 "Special Issue on School Violence"

March 4, 2018 "Bishop McNamara Leads the Way"

February 25, 2018 "New Catholic Schools, Week 3"

February 18, 2018 "New Catholic Schools, Week 2"

February 11, 2018 "New Catholic Schools"

February 4, 2018 "Turnaround Schools, Part 2"

January 28, 2018 "Turnaround Schools"

January 21, 2018 "Synthesizing Church Documents"

January 14, 2018 "What's Brewing in Milwaukee"

January 7, 2018 The 411 on 529's

December 17, 2017 Best of the Fall Issue

December 10, 2017 Serving Hispanic Catholics

December 3, 2017 Building Culture the ND Way

November 12, 2017 "How Are We Building Relationships?"

November 5, 2017 "Journal of Catholic Education"

October 29, 2017 Church Documents

October 22, 2017 Momentum Special Issue

October 15, 2017 "Anthem Protests"

October 8, 2017 Classroom Managment Special Issue

October 1, 2017 "The Un-Themed Issue"

September 24, 2017 "Joy of the Gospel"

September 17, 2017 "ESSA"

September 10, 2017 "On Leadership"

August 27, 2017 "American Catholic News"

August 20, 2017 Back to School Issue