Author Archives: Dr. Tim Uhl | Superintendent

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FEb 18th Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.  The Top 5:

  1. At the top of the American Catholic News section, there is a great feature story on Dr. RaeNell Houston, the superintendent for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Listen to my podcast interview from last fall with Dr. RaeNell here.
  2. As the immigration debate rages, Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners has a great article examining the Christian ethos of immigration reform. Replacing a family-based immigration system with a merit-based system has implications for our values.  Is economic value the best way to value citizenship?
  3. 6 School Culture Building Components,” a blog by Dr. Toby Travis, is a great reflection on building school culture. There’s a little bit of insight for everyone in this.
  4. I recommend you read the editorial “Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue” as well as the NPR article entitled “Is There Any Way for Schools to Prevent Shootings?” and the story of the victims “Musician, Budding Scholars, Wrestling Coach, Soccer Player Among Fla. Shooting Victims.” We need to do a little bit of everything—put the story in context, figure how we can improve school security, and grieve the loss of our fellow Americans.  Gun violence is not a technical problem with a simple fix.  But that doesn’t mean we should give up trying to resist this “new normal” which has become a ritual for disaffected teens.

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David Faber the joy of the gospel

BONUS PODCAST
The Joy of the Gospel with David Faber

Category : Podcasts

David Faber the joy of the gospel

In the first year of his papacy, Pope Francis published the apostolic exhortation Joy of the Gospel, a book-length ode to evangelization. Four years later, the meaning of missionary discipleship is beginning to surround us. Last summer, the USCCB convened a special meeting to analyze, celebrate, and establish a common understanding for the American Catholic Church.

In the fall of 2017, the NCEA decided to use Joy of the Gospel as the source for its new vision for Catholic schools. Do you want to be part of the conversation? Then you need to read Joy of the Gospel. Start by picking up a copy then read my Wednesday Book Blog describing how to approach it.

Next, read the coverage of its release and the introductory pieces on it:

1. Fr. Stephen Bevans, SVD, offers a great introduction to Joy of the Gospel.

2. The National Catholic Register describes 9 Things to Know and Share about Joy of the Gospel

3. America presents an introduction to Joy of the Gospel

Have you read it yet? You really need to make the effort to read Joy of the Gospel.

Once you do, listen to my podcast with David Faber, the outstanding superintendent of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, on the Catholic School Matters podcast. 

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES

Try reading some of the lengthier pieces on Joy of the Gospel:

1. Kevin Cotter’s “Focus on Campus” blog offers some helpful tips on how to read Joy of the Gospel—including sharing great resources. He provides a great way to understand it depending on your level of interest.

2. Cardinal DiNardo shares his thoughts on Joy of the Gospel in a Crux interview. It’s interesting and a quick read.

3. Bishop Robert Barron describes Joy of the Gospel in a short video (9 minutes). Bishop Barron is always interesting to watch and the 9 minutes go by very quickly.

4. The Vatican provides a synthesis of the apostolic exhortation. Do you want to know the official word? The party line? Here it is!

5. Church Life, a scholarly magazine published by the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, published a special issue on Joy of the Gospel with lots of scholarly takes. The introduction is especially insightful but the issue itself will lead readers in a variety of directions.

If you’re interested in developing a faith formation program for your staff, here are 3 great options:

1. Paula Gooder from Church House Publishing offers a six-session study course in sharing faith based on Joy of the Gospel

2. The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice produced a resource for discussion and reflection on the Joy of the Gospel.

3. Catholic Theological Union (CTU) has a great introduction and a study guide with a 12- part series of videos/podcasts which can serve as an online PLC. These are short little vignettes from a variety of different topics. I’ve listened to these and really enjoyed their thought-provoking nature.

 


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Feb 11th Newsletter

Here is the link to the Feb 11th Newsletter.  My Top 5:

  1. The Need to Think Differently” in the American Catholic News section is a great blog post by Don Drees (President) Dr. Bill Hughes (Chief Academic Officer) of Seton Schools in Milwaukee. They argues that we (Catholic school leaders) need new thinking to avoid catastrophes such as the closing of Jubilee Catholic schools.
  2. The next article, “The Scariest Catholic in America” is a feature of Fr. James Martin. It should serve as a wake-up to Catholics to listen to one another and open our hearts to each other.  Otherwise, with friends like these, who needs enemies?  Divided we fall, folks.
  3. In the Catholic School News section, there is a combined NCEA/USCCB document on 529 plans. This FAQ would be a great resource for Catholic school marketing.  You might want to insert these in parish bulletins, post on your website, pass out to your parents, etc.
  4. In the Leadership section, the HBR article entitled “If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week?” is a great article examining what we define as success and what role negative motivators such as insecurity and perfectionism play in our lives.
  5. In the Miscellany section, I love the first article on individualism which appeared in the month’s Sojourners magazine. “Bowling Together” examines how communities have become separated and we need more emphasis on the common good.

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Feb 4th Newsletter

Here is the link to the Feb 4th Newsletter

The Top 5 Links:

  1. NCR was very kind in writing a great article about Catholic School Matters. The host of “In Conversations” also invited me onto the show.  I encourage you to click on the links.  Outlets like NCR pay attention to metrics.  The more hits and downloads, the more likely it is they’ll devote resources to telling our stories.
  2. Education Gadfly (part of the Thomas Fordham Institute) has two great blog posts—one very personal essay by Stephanie Saroki de Garcia (of Seton Fellows) about the need for more miracles in education and another by Kathleen Porter-Magee (of Partnership Schools in NYC) entitled “Charter Schools are Not the Future of Catholic Education.”
  3. I came across an article a couple of weeks ago referencing Rod Dreher’s monastic vision and the “Benedict Option.” Last week, Cardinal Cupich spoke out about what he characterized as “withdrawal.”  So I included the three articles in case you weren’t aware of this movement.
  4. In the Leadership section, the first article about decision-making and fighter pilots was one of the best things I read this week.
  5. Campaign Counsel produced a great guide to how the new tax code will impact giving and this can be found in the Leadership section.

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Turnaround Catholic Schools

Here is the link to the January 28th newsletter.  This week’s top 5:

  1. I’ve included links to the turnaround schools and a few articles about this schools. They are amazing stories.  Clearly, there is no silver bullet to turn around every Catholic school’s fortunes.  But you’ll be inspired by the efforts!
  2. However, school closing announcements have been pouring in. It’s important to read these stories because there are still people out who aren’t woke to our reality.  We have to help people understand that innovative approaches are necessary.  This section can be found after the American Catholic News section.
  3. Speaking of which, look no further than the first article in the American Catholic News section by Partnership School’s Kathleen Porter-Magee’s essay “To Spark a Catholic School Renaissance, We Need to Put Our Faith in Autonomous School Networks” is a must read.
  4. I recommend the article by HBR on Customer Service in the Leadership section. Sure, it’s common sense to pick up the phone and call parents to hear their concerns.  But it’s not common!  I’ve heard of principals who call a set of families every Friday to check in.  Not email.  Not letters and memos.  Phone calls.
  5. It’s Oscar season so enjoy this article on Lady Bird’s creator and her affinity for Catholic schools.

Have a great week celebrating Catholic schools!


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PODCAST #13
Educating Together in Catholic Schools: January 22, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Congregation for Catholic Education, 2007

Link to the document “Educating Together in Catholic Schools:  A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons & the Lay Faithful”

Kristin Melley, the Director of Professional Development for the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College, joins the podcast to discuss the Vatican’s message found in its last document pertaining to Catholic schools.

 

STUDY GUIDE & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Educating Together in Catholic Schools: A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful (Vatican, 2007)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 1: The Bishops identify “widespread phenomena” impacting education.  What are they?
    • 8: What are the two types of communion?
    • 21: What is the relationship between teacher and student formation?
    • 25: What kind of formation is essential for Catholic educators?
    • 27: What is the role of charism in formation?
    • 41: Whose “joyful witness” is essential?
    • 46: What is the school called to be?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • 2: What is different about their vision of formation?
    • 5: What is the difference between an educational community and a faith community?
    • 11: What is the relationship between communion and mission?
    • 39: Does your school educate for communion?
    • 43: What is the ultimate outcome of education for communion?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • 7: How would communion of mission change your school(s)?
    • 15: Is there a hierarchy of vocations?
    • 53: Are your students part of a communion?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES


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PODCAST #12
Renewing our Commitment: January 15, 2018

Category : Podcasts

USCCB, 2005

Link to the document Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium

Most Rev. Robert Lynch, retired Bishop of St. Petersburg and former USSCB general secretary

STUDY GUIDE & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium (US Bishops, 2005)

  • Reading Questions:
    • Whose responsibility is the support of Catholic schools?
    • What is the fourfold purpose of Catholic education?
    • In 1999, Pope John Paul II pointed out the mission of Catholic schools.  What was it?
    • Since 1990, where has the loss of Catholic school enrollment occurred?
    • What does the research say about the success of Catholic schools?
    • What percent of our educators are lay people?
    • The Bishops point to two areas essential for the ministry of education to grow.  What are they?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • In 1990, the Bishops committed to four goals.  How have they done?
    • In the section entitled “The Face of the Church,” the Bishops point to two different realities–affluent and immigrants.  Do you see those realities in your school?
    • The Bishops call on the entire Catholic community to support Catholic schools.  Is that part of your reality?
    • Why is it important for government to ensure school choice?
    • What are Blaine amendments?  Is there one in your state?
    • Has there been a strategic plan enacted?
    • What do the bishops say about serving the poor?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • In the section entitled “the Good News,” the Bishops express gratitude for the work of Catholic school educators.  Do you feel it?
    • How effective are the 4 goals?  Have they been started/accomplished?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES


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PODCAST #11
Consecrated Persons & Their Mission in Schools: January 8, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Sacred Congregation for Education, 2002

Link to the document “Consecrated Persons & Their Mission in Schools”

Jack Peterson, the founder of Managing for Mission and a former president of Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, joins the podcast to discuss the impact of consecrated persons in our schools and the Vatican’s teachings on vocation.

 

STUDY GUIDE & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Consecrated Persons and Their Mission in Schools (Vatican, 2002)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 6: Why have many religious communities abandoned their work in schools?
    • 6: What is meant by rediscovering charism?
    • 10: Explain the value of community life and how consecrated persons demonstrate?
    • 17: Do the Bishops favor one type of vocation over another?
    • 19: How does a school form students?
    • 20: What is the value of the witness provided by consecrated persons?
    • 26: How does the presence of consecrated religious counteract materialism?
    • 30: What is the link between Catholic schools and evangelization?
    • 35: Explain the two parts of human development relevant to education and formation.
    • 51: How do the Bishops describe Catholic identity?
    • 55: How do they describe a vocation?
    • 56: What is a culture of vocations?
    • 59: What is the role of consecrated persons promoting teacher formation?
    • 62: How should consecrated persons “accompany” the laity?
    • 78: What is the “main road to peace”?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • 6: What is the charism of your founding religious community?
    • 19: How does formation and “deformation” impact our students’ development?
    • 43: Our Catholic schools are not designed to be fortresses apart from society, rather “oases” or “microcosms” of community.  Does this paradigm fit your school community?
    • Do we have a “preferential option for the poor” in our schools?  In how we choose our students?  In how we assign our teachers?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • Many times religious communities are credited with simply providing free labor.  How do the Bishops describe their value to our schools?
    • Does your school serve the poor?  Is there an impulse for evangelization?
    • Does your school promote a culture of vocations?  How?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES


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PODCAST #10
The Catholic School on the Threshold of the 3rd Millennium: January 1, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Sacred Congregation for Education, 1997

Link to the document The Catholic School on the Threshold of the 3rd Millennium

Rev. John Belmonte, SJ, the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Joliet, joins the podcast to explore the meaning of the Vatican document in 1997.

STUDY GUIDE & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (Vatican, 1997)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 1: Define subjectivism, moral relativism, nihilism, and extreme pluralism.
    • 3: What is the missionary thrust of Catholic schools?
    • 6: What are the barriers to student success?
    • 7: Due to financial challenges, what is the temptation for Catholic school admissions?
    • 11: What is the ecclesial nature of the school?
    • 12: What is the vocation of a Catholic school?
    • 13: Why is the presence of consecrated religious valuable to a school?
    • 15: What is at the heart of a Catholic school?
    • 15: How do the Bishops describe poverty?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • If Christ is the foundation of Catholic schools, how does that impact your approach and practices?
    • Is your Catholic school at the heart of your diocese?  Why or why not?
    • 15: Does your school share the understanding of spiritual poverty?  Does it show concern?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • Whether or not your non-Catholic population has increased, can you sense any conflicts with Catholic values?  In other words, do you see any effects of “extreme pluralism” in your school(s)?
    • Does your school put “those who are weakest” or poor at the heart of its mission?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES


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PODCAST #9
Principles for Education Reform in the United States: December 25, 2017

Category : Podcasts

United States Catholic Conference, 1994

Link to the document Principles for Ed Reform in the US

Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, the Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesisin the Archdiocese of Hartford, helps explore the meaning and impact for the US Bishops efforts to insert themselves into the national debate on education in 1994.

STUDY GUIDE & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Principles for Education Reform in the US (US Bishops, 1994)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 2nd paragraph: what is “filling” the educational experience” of our youth?
    • 4th paragraph: how do the bishops describe the success of Catholic schools?
    • What are the four beliefs pertaining to Section 1?
    • What are the 8 beliefs pertaining to Section 2?
    • What are the 7 beliefs pertaining to Section 3?
    • What are the 8 beliefs pertaining to Section 4?
    • What are the 4 beliefs in Section 5?

 

  • Discussion Questions:
    • In the first and fifth paragraphs, the Bishops point out that the document is not private v. public schools.  Why do you think the Bishops want to get involved?
    • In Section 4, the Bishops point out the importance of professional development.  How important is professional development in your school system?  (Show me your budget, I’ll show you your priorities!)
    • In their argument for school choice, they call for the government to be neutral toward religion.  What does this mean?
    • What is meant by the “common good” argument for Catholic schools?

 

  • Reflection Questions:
    • If serving the “true needs of children” was the highest priority for your school(s), how would that change priorities?
    • List 1-2  quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES