Catholic education remains one of the most compelling expressions of the Church’s mission to form disciples. Despite decades of decline in the number of schools and students, many Catholic schools have been experiencing renewal by returning to the great legacy of the Catholic tradition. Renewing Catholic Schools offers an overview of the reasons behind this renewal and practical suggestions for administrators, clergy, teachers, and parents on how to begin the process of reinvigoration.
Co-authors Andrew Seeley, R. Jared Staudt, Elisabeth Sullivan, Rosemary Vander Weele, and Michael Van Hecke provide an overarching vision and practical guidance on renewing schools. The book begins by situating Catholic education within the Church’s mission. Fidelity to Catholic mission and identity, including a commitment to the fulness of truth, provides the fundamental mark for the true success of Catholic education. The Catholic intellectual tradition, in particular, established by figures such as Augustine, Boethius, and Aquinas, can continue to direct Catholic schools, providing a depth of vision to overcome today’s educational crisis.
To transcend the now dominant secular model of education, Catholic schools can align their curriculum more closely to the Catholic tradition. One touchpoint comes from Archbishop Michael Miller’s The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, which the book explores as a source for practical guidance. It also offers a Catholic vision for curriculum, examining the full range of subjects from gymnasium, the fine arts, the liberal arts, literature, history, and catechesis, all of which lead to a well-formed graduate, inspired by beauty, attune to truth, and ordered toward the good.
Finally, the book provides a practical vision for renewing the school through the formation of teachers, creation of a school community, and by offering suggestions for implementation of a stronger Catholic mission and philosophy of education. The teacher, ultimately, should strive to teach like Jesus, while the community should joyfully embody the school’s mission, making it a lived reality. The book concludes with examples of Catholic schools that have successfully undergone renewal.
"This book should be in the hands of every Catholic educator in America. It explains why renewal in our schools’ Catholic identity and mission is necessary and offers many practical suggestions on how to bring about this conversion. A bright future is on the horizon for schools that dare to be authentically Catholic."~Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver
"This insightful and inspiring work provides a roadmap for Catholic educators and parents seeking to reform and renew Catholic education by turning fully to the Church’s own understanding of education. The authors acknowledge the role that Catholic schools have played in American culture, as well as the dedicated and mission-driven religious and laity who have faithfully served them. Yet the book recognizes – as any honest supporter of Catholic education must – that the decades of decline in enrollment must be confronted and examined. The answer they propose is time-honored and truth-oriented: the whole-hearted return to a tradition of faith and reason, of wisdom and virtue."~Mary Pat Donoghue, Executive Director, Secretariat of Catholic Education, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"Catholic education faces no greater challenge than putting the Catholic back in Catholic schools. Schools founded to evangelize and bring generations of children closer to God have been overcome by the massive tidal wave of secularism. Renewing Catholic Schools offers a clarion call to put God at the center of Catholic schools and help parents nurture the joyful gift of faith for their sons and daughters. The answer is recommitting our entire schools to God, not just tinkering with religion classes. This book offers the "why" and the "how." Heed this advice. Nothing less than our faith, culture and salvation is resting on our response to this call to action."~Thomas W. Carroll, Secretary of Education & Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Boston
"A must read for pastors, educators, and parents! I read Renewing Catholic Schools in one sitting, drawn in by the passion and deep experience reflected in these essays. The take-away is compelling: renewing Catholic education is critical to renewing the Church—and there’s no time to lose. Inspirational and easy to read, the book beautifully conveys "the Catholic vision" at the heart of Catholic education, suggests concrete measures of Catholic identity, and provides examples of successful paths to renewal."~Mary Rice Hasson, JD, Director of the Catholic Women's Forum, Kate O'Beirne Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
"A strong sense of integrity characterizes Renewing Catholic Schools, as evident from the authors’ "common vision" of the mission of the Catholic school that forms the heart of Catholic Identity. Solidly rooting the educational process in the rich heritage belonging to Catholic education, while realistically acknowledging the challenges and obstacles confronting education today, has a surprisingly encouraging effect. It gives hope that there is, indeed, a way of educating that goes beyond just providing information and leads to Truth and virtue. It transcends merely producing results and has as its purpose bearing fruit that will last. Renewing Catholic Schools, gives a model that can bring healing to the fragmented state of contemporary curriculum and contribute to the synthesis of faith, culture and life that is the goal of Catholic education."~Sister Elizabeth Anne Allen, O.P., Ed.D., Director, Center for Catholic Education, Aquinas College, Nashville