In September 2010, one of the great supporters of American Catholic education, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, issued a memorable call to action for our school leaders. It still has force today. In an article entitled “The Catholic Schools We Need” (America Magazine), he wrote: “It is time to recover our nerve and promote our schools for the 21st century. The current hospice mentality — watching our schools slowly die — must give way to a renewed confidence.”
That single line invites us all to take a harder look at our approach to Catholic education. Philadelphia is the diocese where St. John Neumann founded parochial Catholic schools, and the future of our Catholic schools depends on more than just the professional skills we have as leaders. It also and even more urgently depends on the spirit and mindset we bring to the people we lead.
For decades, Catholic dioceses have spent countless hours (and dollars) training our leaders in skills. One consultant showed us how to better manage enrollment. Another showed us how to better manage our finances. Another showed us what skills were key to being a successful leader.
These things are clearly important. But one of the basic needs we sometimes missed was that no one came along and taught us how to transform our thinking in a way that produced results. No one taught us how to move from an unstated but powerful “hospice mentality” to a credible growth mentality.
Catholic schools have been in crisis since the 1970s. We’ve done a decent job managing a frustrating decline. But we need to realize that our problems aren’t finally about skills; they’re about winning back the faith of our people with strong academic content and even stronger confidence in Jesus Christ.
Read more at CatholicPhilly.com…