Catholic School Matters

March 15, 2020

Let's Talk About Truth

I had the privilege to read Ann Garrido’s latest book Let’s Talk About Truth last month and her message of examining, articulating, and challenging truth in our world has been swimming in my mind ever since. She challenges Christians to speak out in defense of truth and recognize that there is such a thing as objective truth. She posits that we should all be trying to align ourselves with the truth. In other words, our reality should try to align with objective reality.

Then I heard President Trump address Coronavirus concerns in February. “Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover. … So, healthy people, if you’re healthy, you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine,” he said. The implication is that if you’re not healthy, you’re not important. And I’ve heard this repeated over and over—that our students aren’t in danger and we shouldn’t be so concerned.

Yet we are concerned about our students serving as vectors (meaning that our students are going to spread), not as much as victims. Here is a great article about whether closing schools helps contain pandemics. We need to be concerned about all members of our community and closing our schools can help to flatten the curve and protect all our citizens.

My concern is that we are allowing people to become dehumanized. We can now include the elderly and sick with immigrants, non-Americans, and the disabled. We cannot allow this to continue. Every person has dignity and worth. This is our truth and we need to work to align our current political reality with this truth.

Why are we not speaking out? I think the reason can be found not in Garrido’s book but in a NCR interview with Bishop John Michael Botean of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George’s. Bishop Botean alludes to the fact that to have any “leverage with the administration,” they need to support the president. Too many Catholics, including our bishops, have become enamored with the results of the current administration and fail to question the false statements and outrageous and un-Christian comments. The ends don’t justify the means.

Garrido’s book provides a framework for understanding truth and calling one to action. Jesus spoke out for the marginalized, he didn’t further marginalize the neglected. And then I ran into a LinkedIn post by Lizanne Pando, the current President of St. Hubert School for Girls. Lizanne was celebrating her daughter’s acceptance to college. Jenna, who has Down Syndrome, was accepted to a college program. The joy on her face (pictured with her father) is a testament to the gifts and beauty of every person, not just the healthy normative types celebrated by so many in our current political climate.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture
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.

A Connecticut family was sued by a Catholic school for unpaid tuition after they decided over the summer to not enroll. What are your policies and procedures for collecting unpaid tuition? Do you understand how those might be perceived?

American Catholic School News

Catholic Schools Opening & Closing

Leadership Links

Frank Donaldson's tips for managing a crisis like the Coronavirus situation--especially related to development and advancement activities.

Teaching & Learning


20200226 - IEP Webinar School Culture 360

What I'm Up To

Everything is cancelled! By the time this newsletter is published I wouldn't be surprised if all our schools are closed. The speed at which closures and interruptions is happening is dizzying. I have a couple of meetings scheduled but I imagine we'll have to take a look at whether Advisory Councils/School Boards will be meeting face to face.

On this week’s Catholic School Matters podcast, Dr. Ann Garrido, professor of homiletics and author of the recent book “Let’s Talk About Truth: A Guide for Preachers, Teachers, and Other Catholic Leaders in a World of Doubt and Discord, joins the podcast (again!) to discuss her book on truth and what she was hoping to accomplish.

The Director of the Onward Leaders program in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Meg Samaniego, describes the leadership formation program in the Archdiocese. Seventeen emerging leaders have been trained with sixteen still in the Archdiocese and six are being trained this year. Samaniego describes what they are looking for and the three levers they use to train new leaders: stewardship, navigating the Archdiocesan school system, and a sense of mission of the school as part of the parish, the Archdiocese, and the church at large.

On last week's Catholic School Matters Radio Hour, I brought on three guests to discuss different chapters of my new book, Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership. Dr. Ann Garrido, Dr. Mimi Schuttloffel, and Joe Womac join me to discuss the chapter they've read and the thoughts and ideas it spurred.

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: Butte Central Catholic School Board meeting (Butte)
  • Tuesday: St. Mary's School Advisory Council Meeting (Livingston)
  • Wednesday: Office (Helena) & Carroll College presentation
  • Thursday: Office (Helena)
  • Friday: Office (Helena)

Miles this week: 411 road miles

Miles travelled in 2019-20: 23,438 road miles; 34,561 air miles

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Awareness: Conversations with the Masters by Anthony de Mello
    2. The Vindication of Tradition (1984) Jaroslav Pelikan

    3. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, 4th edition (2008) by Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal

    4. Fragmented Catholicity and Social Cohesion: Faith Schools in a Plural Society (2012) by Ann Casson

    5. Let's Talk About Truth: A Guide for Preachers, Teachers, and Other Catholic Leaders in a World of Doubt and Discord (2020) by Ann M. Garrido

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            For Montana Administrators & Teachers

            • Here is a link from the March 3rd meeting. For the April 7th meeting, school leaders are challenged to tell a story about a family which was transformed by your school

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Mar 8, 2020 "Orchestrating Conflict"

            Mar 1, 2020 "Building a Stronger School Community"

            Feb 16, 2020 "Catholic but not Christian"

            Feb 9, 2020 R.I.P. Archbishop Brunett

            Feb 2, 2020 "The Nashville Exchange"

            Jan 26, 2020 "Learning from our Elders"

            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 Lawlapalooza

            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"

            The Nashville Exchange

            Join this first annual conference for Diocesan high school presidents. Presented by the Greeley Center, the conference promises to provide great professional development to presidents/heads of schools for diocesan Catholic schools. However, all are welcome! Special thanks to the Diocese of Nashville for hosting. Here is a link to the Nashville Exchange flyer, here is the link to the schedule. Go to this link to register. Please go to for more information and to register.

            Orchestrating Conflict

            Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation. This is my first book and has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years.