Notre Dame task force issues report on future of Catholic schools

Author: Michael O. Garvey


The Notre Dame Task Force on Catholic Educationa national group of Catholic educators, administrators, diocesan representatives, philanthropists, and investment specialistshas released a report on the challenges and opportunities confronting primary and secondary Catholic schools in theUnited States.

The report, entitledMaking God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States,is the result of a yearlong study commissioned by Notre Dames president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and chaired by Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of Notre Dames Institute for Educational Initiatives.

According to Father Jenkins, the report is the Universitys response to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops 2005 pastoral statement,Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium.

We all know of the many challenges that have confronted the Catholic community in theUnited Statesas generation after generation has struggled to build and sustain this extraordinary school system,Father Jenkins said.These challenges certainly have not diminished at the outset of the 21st century.At the same time, and despite the many difficulties that confront us, Catholic schools in theUnited Statestoday offer compelling opportunities for growth and renewed life.

Emphasizingthe responsibility of the entire Catholic communityfor the Catholic schools, the bishopspastoral statement had appealed to Catholic higher education to address the now familiar problemsdeclining enrollments, rising tuitions, inaccessibility to new Catholic immigrants, diminishing academic quality, and a shrinking labor pool of vowed religious among the teaching ranksand to propose somehopeful responses.

The Notre Dame task force report promises a deepened Notre Dame commitment to serve Catholic elementary and secondary schools through programs such as:

  • theAlliancefor Catholic Education (ACE), which annually supports nearly 200 teachers in more than 100 Catholic schools in more than 30 communities nationwide
  • the ACE Leadership program, which has received a $1.1 million grant from the Goizueta Foundation to expand its enrollment by 50 percent and to build the recently approved Master of Arts in Educational Administration degree, which prepares principals for Catholic schools
  • the ACE Fellowship, which supports and encourages ACE graduates to become lifelong advocates of service to Catholic schools.
  • the recently launchedMagnificatSchoolproject, which provides principals, pastors, parents and school board members with professional support and development training to strengthen schools that might otherwise close
  • a proposed ACE Consulting Initiative, which will provide administrators and advocates of Catholic elementary and secondary schools expertise in marketing, governance, board training, management, strategic planning, and investing
  • the convening of regular National Parish School Leadership Team Workshops for pastors, principals and school board presidents from selected dioceses to discuss Catholic identity as well as marketing, leadership, strategic planning, financial management.

In addition to recommending that the American bishops place the revival of Catholic schools among their highest priorities, the report urges them toteach clearly and with one voice that parents have a right to send their children to Catholic schools, that these schools contribute to a healthy civil society and provide special benefits to the poor and disadvantaged.

The report is available online at

* Contact: * _John Staud, Ph.D., ACE director of pastoral formation and administration, at 574-631-7183 or

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