Saturday, January 17, 2009

Catholic schools are being reinvented

The NY Times has posted an article on various efforts to save Catholic schools in both the New York area and around the nation.

Some of those efforts are taking on shapes that Bishop Clark and his panel of "experts" never dreamed of.

Administrators in a dozen dioceses ... are now recruiting parents and alumni to play a bigger decision-making role ...

In Brooklyn, the centerpiece of the five-year plan unveiled last week by Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio is a two-tiered management structure, with parish priests left in charge of religious matters. A board of laypeople, selected by priests and diocesan officials, would handle just about everything else: marketing, recruitment, managing the finances, even hiring principals.

While reserving the parish priest’s right to veto his board’s decisions, the plan clearly sets a premium on collaboration and on what Bishop DiMarzio called a “communion” of schools and dedicated people. That communion would cut across parish lines, as well as the line of authority that once separated clergy and laity ...

The article mentions the ongoing success stories in Wichita and Memphis and then adds,

What most proposals share is broadening the base of financial support. Some call for including all Catholics in the diocese; others focus on wealthy philanthropists; some use marketing campaigns to fill empty seats with children, Catholic or not.

There are dioceses in this country where Catholic schools are truly seen as a priority, requiring greater roles for parents and alumni, the involvement of the entire Catholic community, outreach to wealthy individuals and - wait for it! - marketing campaigns, all in an effort to help them thrive.

It's sad that DOR is not one of them.

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