Hi, sorry for the short post– I’ve had a day, work-wise. So, I wanted to post this story but have no time for comment as yet. Next week. I will be light on the blog for Friday through Monday as I am traveling with my daughter on scholarship stuff. Not nonexistent blogging, just light.
Archbishop Carlson Outlines Schools Plan
by Elisa Crouch
Archbishop Robert Carlson is announcing a plan this afternoon that seeks to fill about 1,500 vacant seats at Catholic elementary schools in the region, while also enhancing the religious focus of the schools.
The financial centerpiece of the Alive in Christ campaign would be the creation of a new scholarship — which would have funds from parishes across the region — to help families afford tuition.
“My vision for Catholic schools is for them to be truly Alive in Christ,” said Carlson, in a letter released today outlining the initiatives. “As centers of faith, learning and service, they will be vibrant in their Catholic identity, growing, financially healthy, and able to assist those in need.”
In March, Carlson acknowledged one-third of Roman Catholic children do not attend their parish schools, and that half of them do not attend Catholic high schools. To make the schools more appealing to Catholic parents, he said, a number of issues needed to be addressed.
Among them is affordability. Under the plan, the new scholarship fund would be structured as follows:
• Parishes would contribute 2 percent of all parish external revenue, excluding endowment contributions, toward scholarships by the 2013-14 school year.
• 20 percent of the fund would go to mission schools that serve disadvantaged children.
• The remaining money would first go to Catholic families who are new to a school, then to existing Catholic students and finally to non-Catholic families seeking to enroll.
• Aside from the new scholarship fund, the archdiocese will seek to raise $5 million in new endowment revenue to assist families with elementary and high school age children.
Carlson is scheduled to announce his strategy this afternoon at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Manchester, nearly two years after arriving in St. Louis and naming improving education as his top priority. But the concerns he hopes to address — renewing the schools’ commitment to social justice, building up parishes, strengthening Catholic identity, making schools more affordable — date back decades.
In 2010 he began a series of listening sessions involving more than 3,000 people, including pastors, school administrators, parents and meetings with national experts. Through these and other meetings, Carlson has been developing strategies for the 148 schools in the 11-county archdiocese.
The bulk of the initiatives being announced today seek to step up religious observations at the schools. Those include new requirements for elementary schools, which must:
• Begin each day with prayer and reading the life of the saint of the day or the prayer for daily Mass,
• Pray the Rosary during October and May and the Stations of the Cross once a week during Lent.
• Hold weekly Mass by class or for the entire school as a minimum.
• Provide service projects.
• Require classes in apologetics for eighth graders (and for seniors in Archdiocesan high schools).
• Train each principal in her/his role as faith leader and ensure every teacher has read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.