ACE 'missioning' sends forth teachers and leaders to Catholic schools

Author: William Schmitt

The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa.

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame capped its annual “ACE Summer” of formation programs and conferences with a “missioning” Mass on July 27 (Friday), sending forth more than 200 teachers and leaders to Catholic schools across the United States.

The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., and a prominent voice on education within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, presided at the Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to honor what he termed the “vocation” and “calling” of service in Catholic elementary and secondary schools.

“Your participation in the ACE program is a great blessing for the Church,” he said in his homily. “As the chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, I thank you for your willingness to enter into this most important and essential work of the Church.”

More than 170 participants in ACE’s Service through Teaching initiative and more than 50 aspiring principals in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program prepared to fan out to serve in under-resourced schools during the upcoming academic year, even as they continue their coursework leading to Notre Dame master’s degrees.

The bishop also invoked blessings upon the efforts of teachers in ACE’s English as a New Language licensure program, as well as teachers who will serve in at-risk schools that have partnered with the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz.

Bishop McFadden prayed for all those being missioned, that the Lord “will allow you to be the good teachers and leaders that we need in our Catholic schools, especially among the poor and most vulnerable in society.”

ACE has prepared and sent forth college graduates to teach in Catholic schools for 19 years. Its mission to sustain, strengthen and transform Catholic schools has evolved to include additional formation programs, such as a Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC) licensure program. ACE’s response to needs voiced by bishops and schools around the country has also spawned a number of other units assisting children and schools through professional services, partnerships and research.

Several of the units co-sponsor conferences on campus during the summer, attracting attendees such as diocesan school superintendents, Catholic school principals, sports education leaders, parental choice policy advocates, proponents of increased Latino enrollments in Catholic schools, and pastors of parishes with schools.

During the latter event, the School Pastors Conference (July 17-20), Bishop McFadden was the keynote speaker, spotlighting the U.S. bishops’ commitment to Catholic schools as a top-priority mission of the Church. He recalled that the bishops have called upon Catholic universities “to assist our Catholic elementary and secondary schools” with their staffing needs.

Speaking of ACE’s contributions, he said, “Notre Dame has not only accepted the challenge but has worked diligently to be a catalyst to help address the various issues that are crucial to the success of maintaining Catholic schools in the future.”

ACE’s traditional missioning ceremonies, at which ACE co-founder Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., welcomed Bishop McFadden as a lifetime member of the ACE movement on behalf of Catholic schools, began with an evening Grotto prayer service on July 26. At that occasion, Father Scully bestowed an award upon friends of ACE who have been strong supporters of the University.

The 2012 Notre Dame Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Education went to Paul and Patti Purcell, who have made generous, lifetime contributions to sustain and strengthen Catholic educations and who work tirelessly to enhance educational opportunities for all children.

Originally published by William Schmitt on on July 31, 2012.