Catholic Chronicle: "Schools Initiative Spotlights Catholic Identity"
From the August issue of the Diocese of Toledo's Catholic Chronicle:
School officials and teachers will be renewing their emphasis on Catholic identity this fall as diocesan-wide planning for the future of Catholic education shifts inside the classroom.
The topic is a key part of the next phase of the Catholic Schools Initiative: 2010, a long-range planning process that began in November 2005 with the Catholic Schools Summit. The landmark gathering of representatives from every Catholic elementary and high school in the Diocese of Toledo produced the foundational mission statement, vision statement and goals for the future.
Sweeping changes that have emerged since the summit include increased collaboration between schools of the diocese and new configurations and governing structures in such regions as Norwalk, Tiffin, Defiance and Central City Ministry of Toledo.
Superintendent Jack Altenburger points out most of these efforts have taken place outside the classroom walls.
"We thought that it’s time to look at the other goals, because the other goals dealt with more about what’s going on inside the classroom," says Mr. Altenburger. "The fact is the reason we exist is because of what goes on inside the classroom."
In April, Pope Benedict XVI focused on Catholic identity when he addressed U.S. Catholic educators at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
"Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools?" asked the pope. "Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice and respect for God’s creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold."
Mr. Altenburger notes the topic also repeatedly emerged when Bishop Leonard P. Blair met with priests across the diocese to discuss Catholic education earlier this year.
"Our mission is to pass on the faith, and to demonstrate that in everything we do," says Mr. Altenburger.
"If all we concentrate on is what the public schools concentrate on, then we’re missing our mission," he adds. "We say it all the time: we’re not public schools, we’re not private schools, we’re Catholic schools."
People can expect to see schools, teachers and principals becoming more "overt" about their Catholicity in the future, according to the superintendent.
"They may see that at parent meetings and at school council meetings, Catholic identity is now a topic, as well as the math program and the science program."
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