Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:39 Written by Amy Wise Taylor | The Catholic Miscellany Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:19
MYRTLE BEACH—Principals and pastors joined forces recently to discuss revitalizing and strengthening schools in the diocese.
Chris Trott, principal of St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton, said they went into the meeting with a bit of trepidation, not quite knowing what to expect; but they came away with a sense of unity and common purpose.
During the day-long meeting, participants split into five groups, based on school size, and focused on four categories: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and future threats.
Strengths included strong academics and Catholic values, said Erik Goldschmidt, one of the consultants.
Among the weaknesses listed by the groups was diminishing enrollment and a lack of resources, especially for the smaller schools and parishes.
Trott said one thing they fight against in terms of enrollment is a belief that children can get the same formation through the parish as they do in Catholic schools.
“Religion is woven throughout the day and the curriculum,” he said. “It is more than just a class. You will find Jesus Christ present in the morning through the afternoon, every day.”
At the meeting, Msgr. Chet Moczydlowski, pastor of St. John the Beloved in Summerville, said one of the challenges schools face is the need for more pastoral support. The diocese has 118 parishes that can support Catholic education in some manner.
Ways to increase collaboration between the parish and school in terms of religious education was one of the opportunities discussed by the groups. They also spoke about the growing Hispanic community and ways to appeal to them, Goldschmidt said.
Future threats that need to be addressed include methods to engage people in Catholic schools and parishes amidst a growing secular culture, and ways to keep up with technology, especially in older facilities.
Although the diocese will create its own solutions, the participants did look at national trends and creative answers used by other dioceses. Funding, for example, is a common problem, and some regions have responded with a diocesan-wide fundraising campaign exclusively for schools.
Other national trends focus on enrollment. One idea being tested by Wichita, Kan., is a total stewardship model that opens education to all Catholic families based on the gifts — prayer, service, finance — that the family offers the parish.
At the end of the session, the information was given to the consultants, who will help guide the diocese through the planning process and create a revitalization plan.
Next on the agenda are a series of community meetings asking for input from the public. See below for times and places.
The diocese is asking the public to attend input sessions in their region.
Please note changes from the earlier published schedule: sessions will be held at 9 a.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the following areas:
Columbia: Nov. 10, St. John Neumann School
Greenville: Nov. 11, St. Mary Church
Myrtle Beach: Nov. 17, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
Charleston: Nov. 18, 9 a.m., Christ Our King School; 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Cathedral Center
Ridgeland: Nov. 20, John Paul II Catholic School
Contact Sandra Leatherwood, (843) 402-9115 ext. 86 or sleatherwood@ catholic-doc.org.