Report Card: Catholic Schools Growing in Some Dioceses; Sainthood Cause for High School Teacher

Some dioceses see enrollment increases in Catholic schools

Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb., changed their recruiting tactics for new students, and a result is the highest two-year enrollment gain in the nation, according to a new report from the National Catholic Educational Association.

However, the largest gain as a percent of students was in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.

In raw numbers, Omaha’s enrollment increased 920 students from 2014-15 to 2016-17. The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, and the Diocese of Phoenix, Az., followed, with 560 and 521 respectively. Lincoln schools saw a 432-student increase.

Contributing to the enrollment increase in Omaha, officials said, is an effort to reach out to Latino families and a two-year tuition discount for new families, called the “welcome” program.

Abp. Chaput opens case for sainthood of high school teacher

In a Mass at Villanova University, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput formally opened the cause for sainthood of Father William Atkinson, OSA, a long-time teacher at Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Penn., who died in 2006.

Fr. Atkinson was a quadriplegic priest who approached his physical challenges with a heroic grace and sense of humor that inspired many.

“He didn’t say, ‘Why me?’ He said, ‘Why not me?’ and integrated the circumstances of his life into his spirituality,” said Father Michael Di Gregorio, provincial of the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova.

UST offers delayed contracts to English, philosophy professors

The University of St. Thomas, recommended in The Newman Guide for strong Catholic identity, has announced it intends to issue continuous contracts to its philosophy professors following a delay for both English and philosophy contracts. Professors feared a reorganization or even elimination of the university’s respected Ph.D. program in philosophy.

“The core academic disciplines such as English and philosophy will continue to contribute to the future growth of the university,” a statement from the university read. “These departments will remain separate and integral to the curriculum.”

Outgoing President Robert Ivany had cited financial instability and a shift in student interests toward science, technology, engineering, math and nursing as reasons for the review of the English and philosophy programs, which led to a delay in the contracts.

Notre Dame alumni criticize response to Pence protesters

The Sycamore Trust, an organization committed to preserving and enhancing the Catholic identity of the University of Notre Dame, criticized the hypocritical response of the administration to students who walked out when Vice President Mike Pence took to the podium for his commencement address.

A Notre Dame spokesperson beforehand said the university was not concerned by the walkout, because it would be “respectful.”

“He must have meant they would not curse or throw tomatoes or make faces, for ‘respectful’ is a word that does not come readily to mind about students who turn their backs and walk out on the Vice President of the United States when he begins to speak,” said The Sycamore Trust.

They also point out that, while the university said there was precedent for the walkout, the protest against President Obama’s commencement address in 2009 took place separate from the ceremony.

“In Obama’s case the seniors held their own graduation ceremony at the Grotto after a Mass and a rally on the quad attended by several thousand including Bishop John D’Arcy,” they said. “Since the anti-Pence students did not show the same consideration for their fellow graduates and their families as did the students opposing the honoring of Obama and Biden, the Church’s formidable adversaries on abortion, same sex marriage, and religious liberty, it seems a fair question why the university did not oblige them to do so.”

Do Catholic schools have a right to be Catholic?

Do Catholic schools have the right to be Catholic? That’s the ridiculous question at the center of a debate in Alberta, Canada, right now.

It’s gotten so divisive that Donna Trimble, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education, says that because of ongoing attack on Catholic schools by the Alberta Teachers Association, Catholic school teachers should ask whether the only way to “preserve the integrity of Catholic education” is for “parents to insist that Catholic educators of Alberta and their schools and school boards sever ties” with the association.

The teachers association voted that Catholic educators should have the autonomy to choose lessons that are in contradiction to the Catholic doctrine upon which their schools exist.

Trimble called it “an attack” on Catholic schools, and added that “the rights of parents to choose an authentic Catholic education for their children, grounded in Catholic values and permeated by their faith, must be protected.”

“When there is an apparent attempt to undermine the very foundation of the faith tradition that Catholic education is built upon, how can parents be assured that their children will be provided with an authentic Catholic education in each and every classroom?” she asked.

Diocese purchases Wheeling Jesuit University campus

Facing massive debt and budget shortfalls, the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University has been purchased by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in an effort to keep the only Catholic university in West Virginia afloat. The diocese plans to lease the property back to the university at a nominal rate.

University President Debra Townsley said, “We are ever grateful for the generosity of the Diocese and Bishop Bransfield to strengthen the future of Wheeling Jesuit University.”

”It’s not many schools that can have its debt eliminated,” she added

Townsley said the diocese will have no ongoing responsibility for the operation of the university, but changes are forthcoming in the curriculum. The diocese’s commitment will reportedly enable WJU to modify its cost structure.

Let’s pray that diocesan involvement in the Jesuit university doesn’t end with funding.

Devos visits Cristo Rey school, touts school choice

Just days after speaking publicly about a large expansion of school choice, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited the high-performing Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis, where nearly every student receives a voucher.

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is currently the largest voucher program in the country and gives over 30,000 students state money for private school.

At the school, students and staff highlighted an internship program that pairs Providence Cristo Rey students with positions in local companies.

Catholic colleges must create culture of life, not honor pro-abortion pols

Victoria Garaitonandia Gisondi of Priests for Life, the world’s largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion, criticized Catholic institutions which honor or promote commencement speakers who hold views antithetical to Catholicism.

“When did Catholic universities start treating abortion as just a concept, and failing to be moved by it as a massive holocaust?” she asked. “We can no longer take at face value the word ‘Catholic’ tagged on to university name. It is naïve to do so.”

She pointed out that while there are 261 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States—including seminaries and graduate programs—the number of faithful Catholic institutions is far lower. “How pitiful is it that out of those 261, approximately only 17 of those made it on the Cardinal Newman list of authentically Catholic colleges!” she wrote.

“The Church has a key role to play in leading the world out of the culture of death,” she wrote. “But progress will be far slower than it needs to be if the Church gives aid and comfort to proponents of that culture of death. It is, indeed, time to choose. We often speak of how God unites us, but He also divides. He divides light from darkness, truth from falsehood, sheep from goats and good from evil. They don’t mix, and they shouldn’t pretend to mix, especially in Catholic institutions!”

Franciscan University enters into agreements Catholic University, Ave Maria law schools

The world may not necessarily need more lawyers, but it’s desperate for lawyers educated with a Catholic worldview. Franciscan University of Steubenville is responding to that need by entering into partnerships with Ave Maria School of Law and the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America for an accelerated juris doctor program.

Instead of the traditional seven-year route to a law degree, qualified students will spend three years at Franciscan and three years in law school, saving a full year of tuition costs.

“As society continues on a trajectory that ignores the Catholic understanding of natural law, there is a pressing need for lawyers who can integrate faith and reason into their professional life,” said Franciscan University’s President Father Sean Sheridan, TOR. “Our core curriculum teaches students how to understand the human person from a Catholic perspective, giving an excellent foundation for any student seeking a career in the legal profession.”

Bishop rails against ‘ideological colonization’ in UK Catholic schools

An English bishop has expressed strong reservations about the Catholic Education Service program “Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools” which borrows lengthy sections from the LGBT advocacy group Stonewall.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth railed against “ideological colonization”:

…In our world today, two dangerous ideologies are mounting. Just as in 20C it was communism versus fascism, so in 21C a new battle is brewing.

On the one side is fundamentalism, religion without reason. It breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism, to cause disruption and to force upon others its extremist views. This is a tragic reality in the volatile nations of the Middle East; it now threatens the West also.

On the other side is secularism, reason without religion. Its champions seek to privatize religion, driving it from public affairs. Egged on by Stonewall and others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services, in the BMA, in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, in the European Court of Justice and other institutions too. Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear.

Both fundamentalism and secularism are totalitarian; they’re destructive of the human person; they pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society.

…The best defense against this form of ideological colonization is to promote attractively and clearly an authentically Catholic anthropology with its profound understanding of the human person, his/her infinite value and the sacred respect due to others. Personhood is grounded in the equality and difference of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity and every human being made in God’s image. This is echoed in a person’s love of God and love of neighbor, and experienced notably in the joy of friendship. That image is most perfectly expressed in the complementarity and difference of the sexes and the ordering of men and women to a permanent relationship in marriage, loving and life-giving.

Fairfield students petition for contraceptives on campus

A Fairfield University senior presented a list of demands signed by 200 students to interim president Lynne Babington, which included increased access to contraception on the Jesuit university campus.

The petition asked that clubs, organizations and resident assistants be allowed to distribute contraceptives on campus, and that contraceptives be sold at the on-campus bookstore. It requested the student health center be able to prescribe birth control and for it to offer contraceptives to students. The petition also asked for free testing year-round for sexually transmitted diseases and specific additional educational programs and literature about “safe sex.”

“Students are going to have sex, and if they’re not going to be provided contraceptives, they’re still going to do it and it will be a less-safe action,” said Riley Barrett, the College Democrats president and a graduating senior.

Barrett read the demand for condoms on campus aloud to Babington at “Let’s Talk Sex,” a student-organized event.

“We are Catholic Jesuits. We don’t hand out condoms on campus,” university Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Anderson said. Then it went downhill: “We provide services that allow students to get to town and encourage them to buy whatever they need to buy in town. But it’s just not something that we as an institution choose to openly hand out on a college campus.”

Anderson said that Planned Parenthood is welcome on campus as long as they respect the values and wishes of the university—which would seem a contradiction.

Creighton University cuts about 60 non-teaching positions

In order to reduce expenses and assure long-term stability, Creighton University’s President Father Daniel Hendrickson announced that the Jesuit institution will be cutting 60 non-teaching positions in a letter sent to employees this week. Some of the cutbacks will come from the elimination of open positions, but Hendrickson also said most of the reduction will come from dismissals.

The cuts are expected to begin early next month. The non-faculty workforce will still number more than 1,300.

Newman Society President Patrick Reilly on Register Radio

Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, was on Register Radio recently with Jeanette De Melo and Matthew Bunson discussing the importance of commencement ceremonies at Catholic colleges and why it matters whom they honor.

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