In a letter Tuesday to pastors, Catholic school principals and “especially teachers,” Santa Rosa, Calif., Bishop Robert Vasa has temporarily withdrawn his requirement that they sign an addendum to their 2013-2014 contracts that would have required they agree they are “a ministerial agent of the bishop” and reject “modern errors” that “gravely offend human dignity,” including contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
In the letter, Vasa:
- Wrote that his “most serious oversight … was my failure to engage and consult the pastors of the diocese and especially those who are the local shepherds of our Catholic schools”;
- Said his “degree of vigilance” in assuring “the greatest hope of finding the truths of Jesus in our Catholic schools” for students “can look like a lack of trust”; and
- Acknowledged “that I over looked proper engagement of the principals” and “erroneously chose a path of informing rather than mutual discernment.”
Broad grass-roots reaction from parents, teachers, students and pastors had developed in the diocese following disclosure of the addendum, which had been inserted into the contracts as what Vasa and Catholic school superintendent John Collins described as an amplification and clarification of the standard faith and morals clause.
Teachers had been given a March 15 deadline to sign a letter of intent to renew their coming school-year contract and accept the language of the addendum, titled “Bearing Witness.”
In the two-page letter, Vasa said he still plans to implement “in some form” the “goals which we established for this year’s teacher contract” in the spring of 2015.
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Between then and now, Vasa wrote, “in conjunction with other theological educators, I will work to prepare presentations on matters of faith and morals” with principals and teachers as the “primary audience,” though “hopefully parents also will find a way to participate.”
A story Friday in Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat newspaper reported that Vasa’s letter was issued following a meeting with 10 Catholic school principals. He also apparently met with various pastors.
In the story by Jeremy Hay, Cardinal Newman High School (Santa Rosa) parent Lori Edgar says, “We are extremely grateful to Bishop Vasa” for suspending the addendum that, she said, had not reflected her own Catholic faith.
The roughly 400-word addendum would have required all teachers and administrators — Catholic and non-Catholic — to “agree that it is my duty, to the best of my ability, to believe, teach/administer and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds and professes.”
About 25 percent of the 200 teachers in 11 schools under Santa Rosa diocesan administration are not Catholic. The schools enroll about 3,100 students.
Here is a copy of Vasa’s letter:
An anonymous Catholic high school educator, Tim, offers his views on the state of Catholic high schools at the website Catholic Stand. His post, “Confessions of a Wanna-Be Orthodox Catholic High School Teacher” draws from his experience as a 16-year veteran.
Among the causes of a lukewarm faith among students, Tim first lists divorce and its impact on youth and their faith. Of his experiences he writes:
If Catholic schools were factories, the end product would be lukewarm Catholics. I could recount many nightmarish stories of how most of the Catholic school educators and administrators I have encountered have been men and women of little or no faith in Christ and Church. Even in the religion departments it is common to encounter ex-nuns who feel the Church is in sin because they can’t be priests, homosexual men who are more interested in defending the lifestyle than in teaching the straight Catholic faith, and a range of those who are in dissent on some or another important Catholic doctrine.
He says that administrators have told him that, “only one-third of the parents of Catholic school kids are there for the religious education, another one-third are there for sports, and the other one-third for the safety and academics.”
He offers some recommendations for strengthening Catholic identity at parochial schools. They include:
1. Hiring educators who take their faith seriously, live it out, and teach it across all disciplines.
2. Emphasizing worship and praise, and promoting Catholic-Christian music at school activities.
3. Making Eucharistic adoration available at Catholic schools and encouraging students to spend time before the Lord.
4. Combating the cultural messages and promoting healthy male-female relationships by teaching Theology of the Body, and returning to all-male and all-female classrooms/schools.
The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic High School Honor Roll recognizes excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education, highlighting the nation’s top 50 Catholic high schools.
About 50 people have reported that the abuses took place in Catholic schools in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio during the period of 1982 to 2007 by Franciscan friar Brother Stephen Baker, who apologized in a note prior to stabbing himself to death on January 26.
Baker’s death came after the disclosure of financial settlements for 11 men, who accused him of sexually abusing them, while he was a teacher and a coach at Catholic John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by numerous scandals in the United States and in Europe over the past few years, involving allegations of covering up sexual abuse of children by priests to protect pedophiles and the Church’s own reputation.
The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Catholic Church. The Pope recently said he would resign from his position on February 28. Reports say the decision came after the Pope learned about the extent of sex and graft scandals inside the Vatican.
The TUC says it’s worried by the fear of gay teachers being sacked at Catholic Schools for entering into same-sex marriages.
In January, England’s most senior Roman Catholic, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said that teachers in Catholic schools should not marry divorcees, marry in registry offices or in other civil ceremonies (such as civil partnerships) that do not meet the Catholic Church’s approval.
The Department of Education replied by saying: “Faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers. However, schools must also comply with employment law.”
The Catholic Church remains vociferously opposed to equal marriage.
In response, the TUC highlighted its concern over teachers facing possible homophobic discrimination in a written submission to a committee of MPs who are currently scrutinising the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales.
It said: “the position of staff in Catholic faith schools who wish to enter into same-sex marriages appears to be under threat following news that the Department for Education has declared that ‘faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious views when dismissing teachers’”.
In its submission the TUC said: “The stated position of that Church has always been clear on this (covering divorcees and registry office weddings), but there is case law suggesting that the current exemptions to the Equality Act do not extend so far as to allow this discrimination.”
It added: “The fact of this being the Department for Education’s response is alarming and sends out unacceptable signals that justify the TUC’s fears expressed in this submission that the proposed exemptions and the way they are being presented will lead to the worsening of the position for staff who wish to promote equality in schools, and for all the pupils (not just those growing up LGB or T) where prejudiced views are dominant.”
Take a leap of faith with us, ladies
Published 12:02am Tuesday, February 26, 2013
On Saturday, March 2, we have planned one day of renewal for Catholic ladies in the Miss-Lou. Because this type of program is seldom available in this area, I want to invite ladies who are interested to join us. The program, to be held at St. Mary Family Life Center in Natchez, will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue until 3:30 p.m. Lunch is included in the program, and during the lunch break individual reconciliation will be available.
The program will be led by Dr. Nancy Ehret, a native of Greenwood who is now serving as assistant superintendent (curriculum and development) of the diocese of Lafayette, La. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Delta State University and served as teacher for the gifted in Mississippi and Louisiana schools. She earned a master degree in education from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Later she earned an education specialist degree in elementary education and a doctorate in education (professional studies) from Delta State.
Her work with Catholic Schools and her own Catholic faith led her to professional development, first earning a Catechist Certification and later becoming a Master Catechist.
The theme she has chosen for the Ladies Day of Spiritual Renewal in Natchez is “Take a Leap of Faith in this Year of Faith.” The objectives for the one day program are: 1. To get on the high diving board of faith and intensify the celebration of faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist 2. To jump for joy — being Catholic 3. To pull the parachute and rediscover anew the personal and ecclesial features of our faith and 4. To become living witnesses for the entire world.
The program will be at St. Mary Family Life Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The planning group made up of ladies from the Fayette and Natchez parishes arranging details includes Pat Williams, Lorraine Arnold, Vicki Stowers, Hilda Bankston, Pat Tumminello, Julie Kendall, Valencia Hall, Maureen Irby, Jamie Gibson and myself. Lunch will be provided for the participants, and an opportunity for individual reconciliation will be available for those who are interested by the priests in the area. The program will include four presentations.
Pre-registration is encouraged. Registration which includes lunch, has an early bird rate (by Feb. 22) of $20, and after Feb. 22 (and at the door) of $25. For ladies who want a spiritual enrichment program during Lent, I think this is an excellent opportunity. On behalf of the planning committee, I invite you to attend. For further information, contact Holy Family church office 601-445-5700, Assumption church office 601-442-7250, St. Mary Basilica office 601-445-5617.
Megan Guido is a Natchez resident, St. Mary Basilica parish member, and a member of the planning committee for this program.
During the current Year of Faith, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has encouraged everyone to renew his or her personal life of faith. For many Catholics, this faith was a gift given through Catholic education. The daily exercise of prayers at school, with the encouragement and example of teachers, has borne much fruit in our families, which have passed their Catholic faith from generation to generation.
Today, in 38 Catholic elementary schools and seven Catholic high schools throughout northeast Kansas, our children will meet Jesus Christ in ways not possible without these schools. Students learn how to be joyfully Catholic, while achieving at high academic levels.
The annual Archbishop’s Call to Share helps our parishes keep Catholic education accessible and affordable. Schools are continuing to advance new technologies and improved academics and programs to meet the social and emotional needs of all students. Schools take advantage of professional development programs for faculty members, which include follow-up visits, and principals receive assistance with business and enrollment management.
“We teach teachers strategies that have been proven to have a positive impact,” notes superintendent Kathy O’Hara.
In addition to our schools, new programs of adult formation and evangelization are inspiring new participation in parish life. The School of Faith is one example of how anyone can find the answers to questions or doubts about believing. It helps individuals, couples and families mature in their faith and find the true joy of believing.
The Archbishop’s Call to Share sustains a reserve fund for emergencies. If a parish or school is faced with a true emergency and does not have sufficient resources, it can apply for a grant to meet these unexpected, emergency expenses.
O’Hara notes, “Our most common issues involve roofs, boilers and plumbing.”
The appeal supports scholarships for high school students and Catholic college tuition assistance for select colleges in the archdiocese. Each high school receives funds for need-based scholarships for students. Applications are considered based on family need, any unusual family or medical expenses, and a third-party tuition aid analysis.
Faith support programs continue into the college years as well: Students attending public universities can continue to actively practice their faith when away at school through campus ministries supported through the Archbishop’s Call to Share.
As superintendent, O’Hara is grateful and says, “Thanks to the generosity of so many, Catholic schools throughout northeast Kansas can continue to implement unique initiatives, maintain academic excellence and strengthen the faith of our students and their families.”
Despite deteriorating health, Bishop Emeritus John M. DArcy preached the word of God right up to the end.
During a mass held last week by the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades at DArcy’s Fort Wayne home, DArcy — confined to a wheelchair — began preaching unexpectedly in the middle of the service.
Rhoades said it was a testament to DArcy’s faith.
Rhoades said DArcy was also adamant last week that he live to Sunday — the 56th anniversary of his first mass as an ordained priest.
Knowing Bishop DArcy, the Lord will listen to him, and sure enough he did, Rhoades said.
DArcy, bishop emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died on Sunday morning at his home surrounded by loved ones, according to a statement from the diocese. He was 80.
DArcy led the diocese from 1985 to Jan. 2010, when he retired. He was succeeded by current Bishop Rhoades, who spoke fondly of DArcy shortly after attending a confirmation Sunday night at Saint Marys College.
DArcy announced Jan. 2 that he was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer while home visiting relatives in the Boston area over the holidays. He was also diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2011.
He will leave a tremendous legacy of faith, Rhoades said. He was very active in retirement the past three years. He loved the people of the diocese with all his heart and serviced them to the end. He was a man of deep faith and trust in the Lord. He died as he lived — with deep faith.
I just hope I can be half as good of a bishop as he was.
News of DArcy’s passing left a void for the countless who admired him.
Msgr. Michael Heintz, pastor at St. Matthews Cathedral in South Bend, said DArcy will leave a lasting legacy.
He was a totally devoted pastor, he said. He was a strong leader. He genuinely loves the people here, and he poured his life into them.
He was thoroughly devoted to Catholic education. He worked very hard to strengthen the Catholic schools and education. He was devoted to getting the students educated in the faith.
DArcy was born Aug. 18, 1932. He grew up in Brighton, Mass., the son of Irish immigrants, and he studied journalism and law before deciding on joining the priesthood. Before his time in Indiana, DArcy served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston.
He began his time in Indiana at the age of 52, when he was named bishop of one of Indianas five Catholic dioceses, containing 14 counties and around 160,000 Catholics.
DArcy’s time at the helm of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese was not always easy. Just after arriving in 1985, he made the decision to close Huntington Catholic High School after its enrollment dwindled to 55 students, according to a Tribune article. Throughout his time, DArcy had to make the difficult decisions, as he classified them in multiple interviews, to close or combine parishes and schools.
He acknowledged his unwavering style in a 2010 interview, saying: I have no regret, and what I have done is what God wanted me to do. I believe in putting faith into action and have never shied away from hard choices and controversial stances. As I said before, I leave with no regrets.
As a bishop, he said, I have tried to help care for souls, have preached the Gospel and I have done what God wanted me to do.
He led the diocese while Jody Martinez, then-basketball coach for St. Joseph High School, was fired for leaving his Catholic faith in April 1996.
ST. CHARLES—Registration is still open for Friday and Saturday retreat programs at the 11th annual Here I Am Lord vocations conference.
The gathering will be Feb. 28-March 3 at St. Patrick Parish Crane Road campus in St. Charles.
More than 100 religious from communities around the nation will travel to the Rockford Diocese to share their call with children and young adults at the conference.
The grade school workshop on March 1, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., is open to middle school students from Catholic schools, religious education programs and home school groups.
Saturday’s Faith Enrichment Day is open to teens in eighth grade and older, along with adults.
Speakers will talk about vocations from marriage to priesthood both days.
Religious communities will also participate in a second-grade first Communion retreat, added this year, on Saturday morning.
The Heralds of Holiness Exhibit (supported by Our Sunday Visitor) from the Institute on Religious Life will be among several exhibits on display.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for both family evening programs. Donations are accepted.
On Friday night, musician John Lamperis will perform and Msgr. Dan Deutsch, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, will lead a eucharistic holy hour, followed by a healing prayer service.
Saturday evening features Bishop David J. Malloy of the Rockford Diocese as keynote speaker, and talks from religious.
The Vocation Fair, which runs for the entire conference, is also open during all Sunday Masses.
Info: www.stpatrickparish.org – Here I Am Lord, or by phone at 630/338-8050.
K-8th grade enrollment declined 25 percent to 12,469 between 2002 and 2012, according to a new report by the archdiocese. Currently, the archdiocese has 35 traditional elementary schools. That’s down from 55 in 2000 following a spate of mergers and closures.
The report said:
“Regressive enrollment patterns will likely persist until there is a reversal in the pattern of smaller incoming kindergarten classes replacing larger outgoing eighth grade classes.”
And behind those statistics are worrisome religious vital signs. Infant baptisms have declined 24 percent between 1998 and 2011, almost an identical rate as the enrollment decline, the report says.
And there’s a straight line of connection between parents’ willingness to start their children on a Catholic path through baptism and their later participation in Catholic schools and parishes and in later sacramental milestones, such as first communion and confirmation.
The report doesn’t give recommendations. Rather it asks local Catholics to begin coming up with them. It seeks a discussion on how to operate and fund Catholic schools into the future.
It quotes Pope Benedict XVI as telling American church leaders of the direct link between Catholic faith and education:
“It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country.”
The report holds some encouraging statistics for the archdiocese:
- Catholic school enrollment was third highest nationally as a percentage of Catholics in the diocese — trailing only the dioceses of Covington, Ky., and Jefferson City, Mo. — and it’s three times the national average.
- Standardized scores are higher in the archdiocese’s Catholic schools than among students nationally.
Most of the archdiocese’s schools are in Jefferson County, with the remaining in the growing Oldham and Hardin counties and in the traditional Catholic “Holy Land” of Nelson, Marion and Washington counties. In all, the archdiocese comprises 24 counties between the Indiana and Tennessee lines, with most Catholics concentrated in and around Louisville and Bardstown.
The report doesn’t cover Catholic high school trends, although it notes that they’re obviously affected by changes in elementary schools.
The nearly half of Catholic parents who don’t send their children to Catholic schools gave a variety of reasons in a survey, according to the report:
- 48 percent cited the cost.
- 21 percent lacked the religious commitment to make Catholic education a priority.
- 19 percent questioned whether the quality of the education was worth the price.
- 12 percent said they had special-education needs that couldn’t be met in the schools.
The average tuition per student was $4,208, according to a report from 2010-2011.
Eileen O’Reilly and daughter Elyssa are delighted a Catholic secondary school is planned for Doreen
Thirteen new schools are to be built in Melbourne’s outer northern and western suburbs, at a cost of up to $250 million, in the biggest Catholic education expansion since the 1970s, reports The Australian.
The schools are expected to spring up in a belt of suburbs packed with families, including Craigieburn, Doreen, Eynesbury, Point Cook, Tarneit Rise, Truganina South, Toolern and Wyndham Vale.
Sunbury, Beveridge, Wallan and Armstrong are also slated for new Catholic schools in the next decade. A school in Epping North will be one of the first when it opens next year.
The 10 primary and three secondary schools would take between 5000 and 8000 students.
Executive director of Catholic Education Stephen Elder said 3000 babies a year were being born in the City Of Wyndham and demand in Melbourne’s outer west was huge.
“The population growth in Melbourne’s west shows that there are two prep classes born in the City of Wyndham every week. ”For us, it’s a very exciting time in Catholic education.”
Since 2003, Catholic school enrolments have risen 10 per cent. Almost 198,000 children attended Catholic schools in 2012. ”This is a phenomenon that has happened in the last six years,” Mr Elder said. “The enrolment growth is across all (Catholic) schools.”
Mr Elder said Catholic schools were picking up 40 per cent of new enrolment growth in Victoria.
FULL STORY 13 new Catholic schools for Melbourne (Australian)
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