Catholic School Matters

January 26, 2020

Learning from our Elders

Have you ever taught with a veteran, popular teacher who talked about working on a book for years? Usually nothing comes of it. But Mr. Mike Quillin has (finally!) published his book, The Way of Fuzzy Faith, after a lifetime of teaching English and theology in Catholic schools. I’m so happy for him but I’m also happy for all of us because learning from our elders could benefit all our schools.


In last week’s blog, I talked about Deal & Peterson’s Shaping School Culture. They certainly encourage learning from our heroes and elders. “A learning organization is one that mines past and present experiences for important lessons and principles, for stories and legends that can energize current efforts,” they write on page 57. Quillin has a lifetime of important lessons, principles, and stories.


In chapter 40, for example, Quillin relates his “Test Prayer,” where he goes up and down the rows of students while they furiously complete their tests and prays for each one individually. “It is a great way for me to see each student as she is, a unique wonderful individual, not simply a member of the class. Teaching each day one is struck by individual students for good or bad reasons, but there isn’t the time to savor each student as a person,” he writes.


Quillin believes that faith is fuzzy and there are no clear answers. The book is a collection of essays, some of them discussing theological controversies, some of them about books of the bible, some of them about teaching, others about religious practice, with the common thread his faith. You might not agree with all his conclusions but following his arguments is worth your time.


Speaking of time, Quillin has a motto about life that serves as the simplest of his prayers: “This is it. Right now. Right here.” It serves as a centering prayer and a reminder that this is who we are, where we are, and when we are. We often want to be somewhere or someone else, but Quillin reminds us that this is it. He delivers elder wisdom.


After all, we often hear from teachers and administrators in Catholic schools wishing their situations were different—more students, perhaps, or better attendance at Mass, or a better financial situation. Quillin reminds us this is our life, this is our calling. Quillin stayed. He kept teaching in Catholic schools, he kept going to Mass every Sunday. Why? The book is his testimony.


It’s a short (157 pages) and cheap ($10) investment that will yield insight and appreciation into our Catholic school culture.


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Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture

Case Studies Ripped from the Headlines

In this section, I present a Catholic school controversy in the headlines. I don't mean to single out one school or criticize its leaders. I want to present the story and offer you a few questions to consider in case this controversy lands on your desk this year. I encourage you to look at the particulars of the situation to understand the intricacies of the controversy.


Last fall, a priest in Michigan denied Communion to a local judge who was a member of the parish (and a graduate of the Catholic school). This came after a well-publicized denial of Communion for Joe Biden in a South Carolina Catholic parish. If your pastor informed you that he was planning to deny Communion to a parent or teacher due to his/her beliefs, how would you proceed?

American Catholic School News

Catholic Schools Opening & Closing

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning

AVLI Collaborative Experience Video

Miscellany

What I'm Up To

This week on the Catholic School Matters podcast I welcome two great guests to the podcast who explain and celebrate their Catholic school vocations. Emily Lazor, a 4th year staff member at Dallas Cristo Rey College Prep HS, joins the podcast to explain her vocation as a Catholic school teacher. She explained her path to Dallas Cristo Rey and the culture of the school. The principal of Holy Family HS outside Denver joins the podcast to discuss the successful capital campaign. Matt Hauptly first discusses his pathway to leadership and his decision to enroll in the Remick Leadership program at Notre Dame.


In case you missed it, the last episode of the podcast featured two school leaders from the border discussing how their contexts have changed in the past few years as well as the dynamic Stephanie Saroki de Garcia from Seton Partners who discussed their initiatives, including taking over operations of a Catholic school.


I've submitted the final corrections for my first book, Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership due out in March.


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


  • Monday: All-school Masses at Billings Central Catholic HS and St. Labre Indian Catholic School (Ashland)
  • Tuesday: All-school Mass at Sacred Heart (Miles City)
  • Wednesday: All-school Mass at Holy Spirit (Great Falls)
  • Thursday: Office (Helena)
  • Friday: Office (Helena)


Miles this week: 1,020 road miles

Miles travelled in 2019-20: 19,390 road miles; 28,265 air miles

Last 5 Books

    1. Canyon Dreams (2019) by Michael Powell
    2. Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (2015) by Sam Quinones
    3. Shaping School Culture, 3rd edition (2016) by Terrence E. Deal & Kent D. Peterson
    4. Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Guides for the 21st Century (2019) by Michael W. Higgins

    5. The Way of Fuzzy Faith (2019) by Michael Quillin

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            For Montana Administrators & Teachers

            • Here is a link from the Jan 7th Virtual Admin meetings.
            • For the Feb 4th Virtual Admin meeting, school leaders are challenged to come up with a 1-minute story about a student who turned around
            • Catholic Schools Week is here!

            What I'm Up To

            I'm back after our family's weeklong trip to the Emerald Isle (right). I was also fortunate to fly to Reno last week to conduct an accreditation revisit at Bishop Manogue HS which is a fantastic school led by two great leaders: President Matt Schiambari and Principal Bri Thoreson. Now it's time to hit the road for Catholic Schools Week!


            This week on the Catholic School Matters podcast I welcome two great guests to the podcast who explain and celebrate their Catholic school vocations. Emily Lazor, a 4th year staff member at Dallas Cristo Rey College Prep HS, joins the podcast to explain her vocation as a Catholic school teacher. She explained her path to Dallas Cristo Rey and the culture of the school. The principal of Holy Family HS outside Denver joins the podcast to discuss the successful capital campaign. Matt Hauptly first discusses his pathway to leadership and his decision to enroll in the Remick Leadership program at Notre Dame.


            In case you missed it, the last episode of the podcast featured two school leaders from the border discussing how their contexts have changed in the past few years as well as the dynamic Stephanie Saroki de Garcia from Seton Partners who discussed their initiatives, including taking over operations of a Catholic school.


            I've submitted the final corrections for my first book, Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership due out in March.


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


            • Monday: All-school Masses at Billings Central Catholic HS and St. Labre Indian Catholic School (Ashland)
            • Tuesday: All-school Mass at Sacred Heart (Miles City)
            • Wednesday: All-school Mass at Holy Spirit (Great Falls)
            • Thursday: Office (Helena)
            • Friday: Office (Helena)


            Miles this week: 1,020 road miles

            Miles travelled in 2019-20: 19,390 road miles; 28,265 air miles

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Jan 12, 2020 "Shaping School Culture"

            Jan 5, 2020 "Timelessness"

            Nov 24, 2019 "Best of the Fall"

            Nov 17, 2019 "Synodality"

            Nov 3, 2019 "Finance Best Practices"

            Oct 27, 2019 "Blaine Amendments"

            Oct 20, 2019 "Community & Belongingness"

            Oct 13, 2019 Sr. Angie's Lawlapalooze

            Oct 6, 2019 "River of Fire"

            Sep 29, 2019 "Male and Female He Created Them"

            Sep 22, 2019 "Surveying Catholic Culture"

            Sep 15, 2019 "New Catholic Schools"

            Sep 8, 2019 "The Mustard Seed Project"