The way of the Holy Cross.
From the University of Notre Dame newswire:
The Notre Dame Task Force on Catholic Education—a national group of Catholic educators, administrators, diocesan representatives, philanthropists, and investment specialists—has released a report on the challenges and opportunities confronting primary and secondary Catholic schools in the United States.
The report, entitled “Making God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States,” is the result of a yearlong study commissioned by Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and chaired by Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives.
According to the news release, “the Notre Dame task force report promises a deepened Notre Dame
commitment to serve Catholic elementary and secondary schools.” This is interesting because last summer the Indiana Province of the Congregation for Holy Cross voted to withdraw support from a thriving secondary school, Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles, Illinois, my alma mater–and the only U.S. high school sponsored by the Indiana Province Priests of Holy Cross.
Given that the congregation provided no financial support to the high school, and was not burdened by its hardly overwhelming personnel commitment to the school, and that the school’s enrollment had increased 20 percent since 2000, and that the school’s fundraising was at record levels, the decision elicited great puzzlement, even rancor, from faculty, students, and alumni.
Even more puzzling was the press release issued by the Priests of Holy Cross after the decision was made. It lead with the headline-grabbing suggestion that the school could close at the end of the 2006-07 school year. This item was, of course, immediately picked up by both major Chicago newspapers, and had the unfortunate effect of frightening current students and those who were planning on matriculating this year–and of course their parents. Would the school to which they had just sent deposit checks remain open after their sons’ freshman year? Would this statement stymie the school’s enrollment efforts? So ham-handed was the implication in the press release, and so counterfactual (the school’s financial situation is comfortable, and the archdiocese had informed the congregation that it would fully support the transition of governance to a lay board and the financial security of the school), that one must wonder whether this was the intended effect.
Having learned that the Holy Cross press release would lead with such bad–and false–news, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Notre Dame High School Advisory Board issued same-day statements emphasizing that the school did indeed have a bright future. Three press releases from three groups issued on the same subject on the same day. What was happening behind the scenes?
The board, faculty, and staff of the school and officials from the archdiocese have worked hard to make the transition from Holy Cross sponsorship go smoothly, and the school will remain open for the foreseeable future.
As a university community, we stand ready to engage the critical challenges that face this national treasure. We offer these reflections and recommendations with hope and renewed conviction that, just as our forbears in the faith responded with such generosity and courage to the challenges of their time, so too shall we. The best days for Catholic schools are yet to come.
–Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, from his introduction to “Making God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States”
The choice to withdraw sponsorship wasn’t made by Jenkins alone, of course. But he was present at the chapter meeting of the Indiana Province, where the vote was taken. My understanding is that the decision to pull out of their only domestic secondary school won by just one vote. I wonder how he voted.