Catholic School Matters

January 21, 2018

Synthesizing Church Documents on Education

Monday's (Jan 22nd) podcast marks the conclusion of the podcast series on Church documents. Kristin Melley of Boston College joins me to discuss Educating Together in Catholic Schools, the Vatican Congregation of Catholic Education’s 2007 statement on Catholic education. This has been a fruitful learning journey for me and I have provided links to the documents, the podcasts, study questions, blogs about the documents, and additional resources (click here) which will remain to provide school leaders with a chance to learn from the documents in a PLC format for ongoing professional formation.

I challenged myself to synthesize the project and decided that what would make the most sense is to take the seven Vatican documents and pull out common themes. This project began with Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education). Vatican II provided the Church with a new mission statement and announced that Catholic institutions (like schools) were no longer bound by the fortress paradigm present in so many Catholic “ghettoes”—which means Catholics were immersed in Catholic institutions from womb to tomb, including neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, churches, restaurants, funeral parlors, etc. The new paradigm was community and schools were challenged to become faith communities first in order to announce the “way of salvation of all men” (paragraph 3).

Schools, then, were given a new mission to evangelize and not simply serve its own. To whom? And how? The Declaration serves to answer both which serve as themes running through the remaining documents. The call to serve all children of God is found in section 2. The explicit answer to how to serve is found in section 8: “May teachers by their life as much as by their instruction bear witness to Christ.” The call to evangelize the world and the means of forming teachers is a consistent theme.

In the next Vatican document, The Catholic School (1977), the bishops state the mission of Catholic schools clearly: “Evangelization is, therefore, the mission of the Church; that is she must proclaim the good news of salvation to all, generate new creatures in Christ through Baptism, and train them to live knowingly as children of God” (7). Later in the document, the bishops warn against a school who only admits students who can afford it and challenges all schools to offer “educational service to the poor or those who are deprived of family help and affection or those who are far from the faith” (58). This is a clear call to evangelization and comes at a time when schools were closing and were becoming dependent on tuition.

The bishops clearly state the importance of forming an intentional faith community formed through relationships (32) and point to the importance of teachers. “The achievement of…the Catholic school depends not so much on subject matter or methodology as on the people who work there” (43). What we see here is a discussion that it’s not simply enough to hire good people—we need to develop a process of continual formation for mission.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

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What I'm Up To

The Church Documents podcast series continues this week with the final (thirteenth) podcast in the series. Educating Together in Catholic Schools, the Vatican document from 2007, is the last Vatican document explicitly written for Catholic schools. I am joined on the podcast by Kristin Melley, the Roche Center's (Boston College) Director of Professional Development.

Last week, the podcast conversation covered the USCCB document from 2005: Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium. Bishop Robert Lynch, the retired bishop of St. Petersburg and former general secretary of the USCCB, was the guest. Dr. Terri Greene Henning of St. Anselm College provided a great guest blog last week.

If you are a Catholic school principal, can you take this survey?

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. 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.

Here's what I'm working on this week:

  • Sunday: Travel to Riverside, CA for WCEA accreditation visit of Notre Dame High School (Day 1).
  • Monday: Day 2 of NDHS visit (Riverside); Podcast Episode 93: Educating Together in Catholic Schools with Kristin Melley
  • Tuesday: Day 3 of NDHS visit (Riverside); Blog: Educating Together
  • Wednesday: Day 4 of NDHS visit (Riverside) & return to Helena; Wed book blog: Wait, What? (2017) by James E. Ryan
  • Thursday: Office (Helena)
  • Friday: Office (Helena)

Miles this week: 133 driving miles; 2,278 air miles

Miles travelled in 2017-18: 16,164 road miles; 20,957 air miles

American Catholic News

Catholic School News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning




  • FACTS Day of Giving January 30th
  • VIsions for Excellence Soul of Youth Sports Conference Feb 21-23
  • Convention, April 3-5 Cincinnati


  • Jan 25: Missionary Discipleship Webinar Series: The Value and Quality of All Life
  • Jan 29: Introduction to Singing and Conducting Gregorian Chant
  • Jan 30: The Power of Simple Video
  • Jan 31: Welcome to the Modern Learning Revolution
  • Feb 1: Digital Bullying: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know
  • FEb 6: Unlocking Student Talent

What I'm Reading

  1. Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church (2017) by Chris Lowney
  2. Leadership on the Line Ronald Heifetz & Marty LInsky (1989) by Carl E. Larson & Frank M. J. LaFasto
  3. Building a Bridge (2017) by James Martin, SJ.
  4. Creativity, Inc. (2014) by Ed Catmull
  5. America's Original Sin (2017) by Rev. Jim Wallis

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

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