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A Look Back at the CSA Summer Institutes

on Tuesday, 22 August 2017.


Each summer, as much of student life winds down here on the University of Notre Dame’s campus, it is just gearing up at the Alliance for Catholic Education. The “ACE Summer” is a reliably busy time for ongoing programs and new initiatives alike, and the Catholic School Advantage Campaign (CSA) is no exception.

Through its two most widespread and increasingly well-known initiatives—the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) and the School Pastors’ Institute (SPI)—the CSA welcomed hundreds of new mission partners to engage in four weeks of conferences that focused on best practices to sustain and strengthen the vibrancy of Catholic schools for the children who need them most.


Latino Enrollment Institute

The Latino Enrollment Institute hosted its sixth cohort of Catholic school leaders from around the country, which spanned over two weeks of the summer in two separate groups. The LEI addresses two central challenges facing our Catholic schools today: (1) How do we promote the unique value of Catholic schools to Latino families and encourage enrollment?; and (2) How do we help Catholic schools respond effectively to the unique needs of their Latino families.

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LEI 2017 Photos

This year, 63 schools were selected through an application process to take join the sixth cohort of the LEI. Approximately 170 participants, including school principals, administrators, teachers, and pastors attended the conference this past summer, which was held on campus June 18-21 and July 9-12. Also in attendance were eighteen diocesan representatives who serve in roles specifically focused on Latino recruitment and enrollment management, as well as twenty-seven members of the LEI leadership team, who serve in various capacities, including coaching, presenting, and developing content for a new ongoing formation component of the LEI.

The four-day program features presentations from school leaders with demonstrated success in developing innovative Latino outreach programs, and serves as a launching point for the coming academic year in which the school principals will engage in ongoing discussions with a team of fellow principals from their cohort.

This continuing formation is one of the most significant changes instituted this year in the LEI. While in years past the follow-up component for schools in the program was an onsite visit, as well as monthly check-ins from their assigned mentor, we sought to enhance the collaboration amongst the principals themselves by placing them in teams that meet monthly via video conferencing. These regular meetings, facilitated by an LEI coach, center around a series of topics designated for each month and include a number of articles, videos, and other tangible resources that encourage best practices associated with their ongoing Latino outreach efforts.

The LEI has now worked with 240 Catholic schools from 90 different (arch)dioceses.


School Pastors' Institute

The 2017 ACE Summer also marked the seventh annual School Pastors’ Institute (SPI), a four-day conference held on Notre Dame’s campus designed to help pastors respond to the unique and increasingly complex challenges and opportunities related to serving as a pastor of a Catholic school.

Since the program first began in 2011, nearly 850 pastors from 132 (arch)dioceses have attended the Institute. This summer, the SPI brought together 175 school pastors over the course of two weeks, representing 64 (arch)dioceses.

We were honored to welcome back Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport as the keynote speaker of the first session, which was held June 26-29, and to welcome Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of the Diocese of Youngstown as the keynote speaker of the second session of the SPI, July 17-20. Bishop Murry currently serves as Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Education and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

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The SPI featured thirteen different presenters who spoke on a number of topics, including the strengthening of Catholic identity in schools, financial management, strengthening the pastor-principal relationship, and recruitment and marketing strategies for attracting and better serving Latino families.

The SPI also featured several tracks tailored to the unique needs of school pastors, including those who are first-time school pastors, those who are pastors of regional or combined schools, pastors of rural parish schools, and international priests who may be new to the U.S. Catholic school system.

It is no secret that many pastors today are reluctant to serve at a parish with a Catholic school. The school brings with it many challenges, worries, and demands that they might not otherwise have at a parish without a school. But when pastors are better equipped to handle the additional responsibilities that a school presents, they are often able to see and experience the rewards of having a Catholic school. It is our hope that pastors return from the SPI to their parishes with renewed zeal for the Catholic school entrusted to their care, for it is their unique authority to articulate both the value and accessibility of a Catholic education that makes the School Pastors’ Institute such an integral part of the Catholic School Advantage Campaign.

If you are interested in attending one of the CSA summer programs in 2018, please check back in the coming months. The application for the Latino Enrollment Institute will be available at in October 2017, and the registration period for the School Pastors’ Institute will open in November 2017 at

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