Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A tale of two bishops

A committee of experts' recommendation to close 3 out of 6 Fort Wayne, Indiana Catholic schools has been put on hold by His Excellency, Bishop John D'Arcy.  The plan would have saved the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend about $1 million annually.

Instead, parents, parishioners and other interested parties will now have 3 years to use their time, their talent and possibly even their treasure to stabilize and strengthen their Catholic schools.

Multiply the numbers in the first paragraph by 4 and it is obvious that Bishop D'Arcy faced a problem quite comparable to that faced by Bishop Matthew Clark last year.

Bishop D'Arcy has been quoted as saying, "It is our obligation and our purpose to provide the best possible Catholic education for the largest number of students and to do it at a reduced cost, so more families can enroll their children in our schools."

Bishop Clark has made similar statements.

Bishop D'Arcy chose to give his laity the opportunity to show what they can do.

Bishop Clark chose to throw in the towel.


(Read the full story here and here.)


Anonymous said...

For a bishop who is allegedly a champion of lay involvement, it's quite surprising and saddening that Bishop Clark did not give the people losing their schools the time of day to try out their plans for keeping their schools open (in particular St. John in Spencerport and Holy Cross).

~Dr. K

Lee Strong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee Strong said...

Actually, Bishop Clark and the education department was trying for years to get more support for the schools. The Wegman fund delayed closings. The hope was that people would come forward to begin providing more support before it did run out. A few did, but not enough.

While I don't exonerate the diocese in this situation - Bishop Clark could have done more, and I agree, he should have given some parents an opportunity to try to keep their schools open - I also saw too many parents who opted to send their kids to public schools, and other folks who failed to increase support for Catholic schools. This helped to lead to the problems.

In some cases - though certainly not all - some parents sat back and did nothing for years despite warnings and other closings and only started paying attention when THEIR school was slated for closing.

And then there are the folks who cut off financial support for the diocese because they were upset at something that was done, not done, or not done the way they wanted it done, or who constantly bad mouthed the bishop and the diocese and helped to inspire other people to reduce or cut off their support. That certainly did not help the situation any.

There's lots of blame to go around.