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Unleashing our Catholic Schools A strategic vision for the future of the Archdiocese of Detroit

Dear friends of Catholic Schools:

As boldly called for in Unleash the Gospel, the Office of Catholic Schools and the Catholic Schools Council have embarked on a journey to renew and reinvent our Catholic schools. For centuries, Catholic schools have prepared boys and girls to become men and women of virtue; to fully become the person God created them to be; and to joyfully embrace their vocations, becoming servant leaders in this world and saints in the life to come. God calls our children to become joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, and our schools to equip them for their sacred missions.

This new vision for our Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit is the next step of the Unleash the Gospel movement. Our vision is to radically overhaul our schools through a renewal of structures and methods, focusing on the spiritual and academic formation of God’s children—our children. As confirmed by the Holy Spirit in the archdiocese’s Synod 16, our Catholic schools and students are the responsibility of everyone: bishops, priests, parishes, educators, parents and all the lay faithful.

This conviction is a foundational principle for the renewal of this ministry.

Our work is modeled on and guided by Jesus Christ, the master teacher. A Catholic school’s mission is to foster holiness and to serve as a center of evangelization and discipleship. Our Catholic school communities play an integral role in unleashing the Gospel in southeast Michigan and beyond. As directed by the people of the archdiocese through the Synod, our vision reflects the following important charges:

  • To make Catholic schools the responsibility of all parishes and all Christ’s faithful. This conviction needs to be a foundational principle for the renewal of this ministry.
  • To ensure that any Catholic family in the Archdiocese of Detroit that seeks an excellent Catholic education for their children can have one.
  • To ensure that school leaders have evangelization and discipleship as their highest priority as together we will re-envision the mission, funding and governance of Catholic schools.

Jesus told his disciples, “knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

With the process of crafting this vision, we have prayerfully knocked, and we trust that Christ will open the door to an exciting future for our Catholic schools. We know in faith that as Jesus has promised us in John 15, when we abide and remain in him we will bear much fruit, and apart from him we can do nothing. Together as an archdiocese, we invite you to work with us to unleash our Catholic schools.

Four dimensions to Unleashing Our Catholic Schools

To unleash our Catholic schools, we will first and foremost be proudly Catholic. We are committed to our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ in his Catholic Church. We share the Gospel in our schools through the intellectual pursuit of truth—both divinely revealed and known through nature—and by the witness of our lives. We are uncompromisingly faithful to Jesus Christ and his Church, confident that he is the way, the truth and the life.

Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit will be academically excellent. We will offer an exceptional education that helps each student identify and foster his or her talents to work in the service of Christ in the modern world. We will rigorously and lovingly prepare disciples to build up the Kingdom of God in this world, and witness to Christ throughout their lives. This entails forming students for both their vocational and professional lives.

Catholic schools will be accessible to all by embracing the rich cultural diversity and traditions of God’s children. Lastly, Catholic schools will become sustainable for the future. Above all, our Catholic schools will be able to provide our families with the blessings of a Catholic education, no matter their economic situation or circumstance.

Our vision was largely informed by the results of the recently completed strategic planning process undertaken by schools across the archdiocese. The formulation of each plan involved soliciting feedback from its parish and school community, faculty, administrators, parents and students. We’re grateful for all those that participated, as it helped to shape our collective vision for our archdiocesan school system. In the following pages, we’ll describe concrete and actionable steps that we’ll take to support each of the four dimensions.

Together, we will help ensure that our Catholic schools are proudly Catholic, academically excellent, accessible to all and sustainable for the future. Together, we will joyfully and effectively unleash our Catholic schools.

Dimension One: Proudly Catholic

Offer and Encourage Participation in the Sacramental Nature of the Church

  • All Catholic schools will offer weekly Mass opportunities and greater access to the sacraments, which will assist students and their families deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ (starting in the 2019-2020 academic year).
  • The Office of Catholic Schools, informed by guidance from the Offices of Catechesis and Evangelization, will provide ongoing faith formation for parents and students commencing in the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The Office of Catholic Schools, partnering with the Office of Vocations and the Serra Club, will implement new programs to promote awareness and discernment of each student’s vocational call to priestly, religious, married and single life starting in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Acquire, Develop, and Retain Talented Catholic Professionals in Our Schools

  • During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Offices of Catholic Schools and Human Resources will develop and deploy a toolkit for schools to effectively hire faculty who have a heart for spreading the joy of discipleship in Jesus Christ, helping young people grow in their talents and abilities to put themselves at the service of the Gospel. The role of educators is modeled on the role of Christ Himself.
  • The Offices of Catholic Schools and Human Resources will develop and promote a new principal recruitment and hiring toolkit to attract mission driven leaders for our schools (effective the 2019-2020 academic year).
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will develop and publish highly qualified principal standards and a corresponding coaching tool, to assist pastors and other school decision makers, so that they may retain and develop joyful missionary leaders for our schools starting the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will develop and publish highly qualified teacher standards and coaching tools to assist principals and other decision makers to retain and develop joyful missionary teachers for our schools during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Equipping for Service of the Gospel

  • The Office of Catholic Schools will develop and provide principal, teacher and staff formation and retreat opportunities regarding how they may effectively form students into missionary disciples. This will commence the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will develop and implement a newly-created Principal Formation Institute (PFI) to offer Catholic educational leadership programs for aspiring principals during the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • The Office of Catholic schools will formulate and train school principal leadership teams to begin operation during the 2019-2020 academic year. While the principal sets the vision, the leadership team helps to set the course and coordinate faculty work to reach the goal. Highly effective principals distribute leadership to get constituent voices at the table when planning where to focus efforts and when assessing progress toward goals.

Mentoring and Onboarding Programs

  • During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Office of Catholic Schools will offer a newly-designed teacher induction and mentor program. The program will focus upon training Catholic school teachers as ministers, deepen their understanding of Catholic Church teaching, and inspire them in their calling to Catholic education.
  • The Office of Catholic Schools, in conjunction with the Vicar for Clergy, will create training and mentorship for newly-appointed pastors to foster best practices and collaboration among those engaged in this vital ministry during the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • New principals will be invited to participate in a redesigned annual mentoring program to ensure successful onboarding and accelerated skill acquisition during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Dimension Two: Academically Excellent

Academic Programming and Configuration

  • As part of the on-going school strategic planning process, provide resources and guidance to help interested schools identify and plan for these opportunities (e.g. classical education, dual language emersion, STEM). Such changes will assist schools in becoming uniquely and individually excellent, all the while driving enrollment across the school system.
  • Partnering with the University of Notre Dame, the Office of Catholic Schools will help schools with planning and implementation of nationally-acclaimed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs at select schools starting the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • Engage the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education to help to plan and implement classical models within select grade schools, with planning starting in the 2018-2019 academic year. Classical schools will help to promote the Aristotelian and Catholic traditions of truth, beauty, and goodness in our Catholic schools.

Academic Performance and Monitoring

  • Create and implement a new archdiocesan curriculum and standards process to encourage academic rigor and relevance starting the 2019-2020 academic year. This will include ensuring there is an authentically Catholic worldview that permeates the curriculum. This will particularly assist students in seeing the harmony between faith and reason, and the harmony between rigorous scientific pursuit and faithful obedience to Christ.
  • Starting the 2018-2019 academic year, the Office of Catholic Schools will begin a process to investigate, pilot and implement a computer adaptive assessment platform to effectively gauge student academic achievement and growth so that teachers may provide more impactful and specifically tailored instruction.
  • A newly created Instructional Leadership Institute (ILI) will begin during the 2019-2020 academic year to provide a forum for midlevel and seasoned educators to gather together and dialogue about current issues in the fields of leadership, curriculum and instruction, as well as provide each participant with current and relevant practices and tools. The goal is to strengthen their confidence, efficacy and competence for the important work they do in their schools.
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will work with schools to produce meaningful school-level performance and comparison metrics, culminating in annual State of the School presentations at the local level, so they may be shared with their stakeholders (commencing 2019-2020).

Dimension Three: Accessible to All

School Level Enrollment and Retention Planning

  • The Office of Catholic Schools will oversee training and accompany schools to complete a comprehensive enrollment management plan to be implemented and monitored, along with school specific recruitment and retention tracking tools designed to ensure best practices to optimize enrollment (2018-2019 academic year).
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will explore opportunities to collaborate with and serve the Catholic homeschooling community.
  • Collaborate with Directors of Religious Education to develop an approach to promote Catholic schools among public school families so that they may realize the benefits of a Catholic education and decide to enroll (2019-2020 academic year).
  • The Office of Catholic Schools will develop and implement a plan to serve children with exceptionalities and special education needs (2019-2020 academic year).

Building Cultural Competency

  • The Office of Catholic Schools will provide cultural competency certification for Catholic school staff to identify and remove barriers that potentially divide us from the faithful whom we desire to serve (2019-2020 academic year).
  • In response to national data suggesting Latinos are both the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. Catholic Church and the most underserved by Catholic schools, the Office of Catholic Schools will commence an on-going partnership with the University of Notre Dame Latino Enrollment Institute so our schools may better attract and serve Latino families.

Dimension Four: Sustainable for the Future

Comprehensive School Financial Modeling and Planning

  • Starting immediately, we will begin development of a sustainable system-wide school finance model that promotes Catholic school affordability and accessibility for any family who desires it for their children, no matter their economic situation or circumstance. The creation of the model will be guided by a strategic and collaborative effort with pastors, principals, philanthropists, alumni and archdiocesan faithful. These important constituents will help ensure the effectiveness of a systematic solution to truly make a Catholic education affordable, with the first fruits to be seen during 2020-2021 academic year.

Model Uniform School Budgeting

  • The Efficient School Model will be developed by the Office of Catholics Schools, Office of Finance and Administration, and school stakeholders. The tool will provide financial guidance and help to promote long term sustainability for schools as they formulate their budgets starting with the 2019-2020 academic year.

Highly Effective and Innovative Forms of School Governance

  • The Office of Catholic Schools will explore and assist with implementation of highly effective alternative school governance models for parish-based and regional grade schools (commencing the 2019-2020 school year).
  • Design and implement fiduciary boards to govern Archdiocesan free-standing high schools and regional elementary schools for implementation during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Centralized Marketing and Development Efforts

  • The Offices of Catholic Schools and Development will create an annual school system development plan that identifies continual funding sources of income and engagement with benefactors through events, grants, endowments, alumni support, and regular appeals for the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The Offices of Catholic Schools and Communications will develop an archdiocesan marketing communications strategy to help promote the life-changing benefits of a Catholic school education, including the launch of a new website with compelling resources for prospective and current parents for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Conclusion

Catholic schools are integral to the life of the Church. Our schools are not optional. They’re part of how we live our vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ.

This is an important time in the history of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit. While we inherited solid elements from our forebears, we must reconfigure and energize our schools into a new system because what we offer is a great gift to the world—to our children and their families. Our mission of providing an authentically Catholic education is urgent.

We need our Catholic schools more than ever so that our young people have the vision that is part of the mind of Jesus Christ—so they don’t slip into a post-Christian mentality about how all the world fits together and the place they have in it. Our children must grow and move forward with the heart and mind of Christ.

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron

Archbishop of Detroit

Created By
Archdiocese of Detroit
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