Obviously, we here at ACE are pretty bullish when it comes to Catholic schools. And boy, after the reading the news lately, it shouldn’t be hard to see why. It seems like every outlet has chimed in over the past few weeks on Catholic schools, parishes, and the “state” they’re in.
Pope Francis’ upcoming visit certainly has something to do with that, but the past two weeks have also seen sweeping profiles on Catholic higher education; spotlights on the Cristo Rey network and its students; and the growth, challenge, and promise of Catholic schools writ large.
It’s a lot.
And that’s a good thing! But because time is finite — and I expect many of our readers are busy planning classes and teaching kids themselves — here are the stories that are particularly worth your time this week:
All Eyes on Francis
For This Catholic School Principal, It’s More Than a Job — WSJ
A tremendous profile of Joanne Walsh, principal of Our Lady Queen of Angels school in East Harlem, where Pope Francis will visit next month. In ACE, we like to talk a lot about leading with zeal, and Walsh sums it up well: “It can’t be a job. If this was a job, it would be impossible...It’s a life, and it’s a choice I made.”
Why Pope Francis is visiting East Harlem and a Catholic school there this month — LATimes
Continuing the thread of the papal visit is the LA Times, with a thoughtful piece on the neighborhood in which Our Lady Queen of Angels is located. Money line: "'I'm worried about business. Why do I care about the pope?' Sheeri said as he puffed on a cigarette." Seems not everyone is wrapped up in papal-palooza.
'It's All About Church Closings': Catholic Parishes Shrink In Northeast, Midwest — NPR
Using Our Lady Queen of Angels as a backdrop, Hansi Lo Wang of NPR does a great job of discussing the string of parish closings in New York and the country at large. We’ve mentioned before that when a parish closes, it affects the larger community — social services or schools often stop operating as well. This is a story worth listening to; the pain and concern apparent in the voices of the subjects is palpable.
Cristo Rey’s Been Receiving Well-deserved Attention
The Vision of Cristo Rey — America Magazine
If you’ve got 20 minutes, take a listen to America Magazine’s podcast with Joe Parkes, S.J., President of Cristo Rey New York High School. Also, America uses intro music from the band CHVRCHES, which is just genius. Kudos, America.
Pope Francis and the People — ABC News
If you haven’t already watched the beautiful “virtual audience” between Pope Francis and students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago (among others), it’s a must-watch. Fair warning: keep a box of tissues handy.
The Changing Landscape of Catholic Education
Although of many styles, Catholic schools face similar challenge — Crux
The third in a three-part series on American Catholic parishes, Crux gives a sweeping overview of the state of Catholic schools in America, from one struggling to make ends meet to those that are aggressively expanding.
Notre Dame President Stands Firm Amid Shifts in College Athletics — NYTimes
Whatever your feelings on Notre Dame’s football performance this season, this is an interesting look at how Fr. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, views the ever-changing landscape of college athletics — and the role of Catholic education in forming student athletes.
Renaissance Ahead? — Philanthropy Roundtable
Andy Smarick and Kelly Robson at the Philanthropy Roundtable have given a tantalizing preview up their upcoming book on what they see as an impending Catholic school renaissance. With an eye toward donors, they declare with infectious optimism “any donor with even modest resources and some creative force has the chance today to reimagine, retool, and re-energize a storied American institution.”