Catholic School Matters

August 17, 2020

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

For the past five months, I feel like I’ve been living the Serenity prayer. In the face of so many overwhelming challenges, it’s hard to know where we can make a difference. So much information overload, anxiety, and decision fatigue. I’ve seen so many friends, family, and colleagues wade into conflicts such as school funding, mask wearing, and face-to-face schooling and get tossed around, discouraged, and beaten down.

We have acquired a couple of inflatable kayaks this summer, one of which leaks air slowly. Both take on water. Neither are exceptionally fast or comfortable. If you focus on the leak, the sloshing water in the boat, the headwind/currents or your sore muscles, your time in the boat will be short and unpleasant. But if you bail water when needed and handle the inconveniences, you’ll have moments of bliss out of the water far from shore. We’re going to take on water this year and the headwinds will gust. But we are called to lead our school communities to calm water and instill confidence that better days are ahead.

This is a marathon. We need to stay prepared for more changes and continue to adopt a learning mindset. What will we know next week or next month that will change our position? Don’t dig in, become the lead learner. I need time and space to let the wisdom bubble up and help me determine where I should be spending my energy. I need time to pray to listen for the movements of wisdom.

Learn from others. Last week, I interviewed Dr. Daryl Hagan from the Diocese of Evansville on the podcast. We talked about their decision to reopen face-to-face and their experience in their first week. We need to pay attention to the experience of the early adopters. This week, I’ll air an interview with Bea Kaleva, a Montana school attorney. We’ll discuss the legal challenges and pitfalls facing our schools. We need to keep learning. I’ve also discovered Global Epidemics from the Harvard Public School of Health and their great metrics. I blogged about it here.

I’ve tried to take a break from the outrage culture. There is so much noise and so much conflict (and conspiracy theories) that can muddle our clear thinking. I’m craving the space to think and reflect and find it ironic that with all the time at home and in the office (i.e. not travelling) I can’t seem to find enough. I’ve been trying to go deeper on some subjects and guilty pleasures but I haven’t been afraid to wade in when it’s important. For example, this blog explains why it was important for Montana Catholic schools to end their religious exemption policy.

I’m trying to connect with more friends and family. I can get by without eating in restaurants, going to movies, or working out at the gym. But I miss great conversations. I have survived without conferences and conventions but I sure miss seeing colleagues and friends. So I’m trying to schedule phone calls to stay connected. This article is a reminder of the lost art of phone calls.

Below are some great resources to help you get yourself focused on the challenges ahead, like, for example, what are your triggers for closing school? Accept, take courage, and may you find wisdom.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Catholic Schools Closing & Opening

For the complete list of Catholic schools closing before the 2021 school year begins, click here.

For Your Reflection


What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Option for the Poor and for the Earth (2012) by Donal Dorr
    2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2020) by Michelle Alexander
    3. Between the World and Me (2015) Ta-Nehisi Coates
    4. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian (2018 ) by James H. Cone.
    5. The Vision of Vatican II: Its Fundamental Principles (2019) by Ormond Rush

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            May 24, 2020 Value Proposition During Uncertain Times

            For previous newsletters, click this link

            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.