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Catholic School Advantage

Latino Bishops Gather in San Antonio to Discuss Strategy for Increased Accessibility to Catholic Schools for Latino Families

on Monday, 03 February 2014.

Bishops in San AntonioLast month the Catholic School Advantage Campaign and the Program for K-12 Educational Access (PEA) – two initiatives of ACE often working closely in collaboration – gathered together 13 Latino (arch)bishops as part of the PEA's ongoing advocacy work with church leaders.

Traditionally, the PEA has led this dialogue with Catholic bishops from around the country to discuss the Church's unique and integral role in the enactment and expansion of well-designed parental choice programs. This year, the gathering, which was designed in response to Cardinal Dolan's recent invitation to approach the transformation of K-12 Catholic schools with renewed focus and vision, included Latino bishops from across the United States to focus explicitly on what they as Latino leaders in the Church can do to revitalize Catholic education.

The data regarding population growth and educational outcomes within the Latino community has clearly indicated a "demographic imperative" that the Church more effectively serve Latinos through K-12 Catholic schools. Furthermore, bishops – particularly Latino bishops – have unique authority to articulate both the urgency and importance of this work, as well as offer a unique perspective in forging a strategy to position Catholic schools as indispensable instruments of the New Evangelization.

One concrete idea that came out of our gathering was that of hosting a series of webinars in conjunction with the Committee on Catholic Education at the USCCB. These webinars would address primarily the issue of how we might make our schools and parishes more culturally responsive to the Latino community. Stay tuned for an announcement about these webinars in the coming months.

The gathering was held in San Antonio, Texas, January 15-16, with the following bishops in attendance:

  • Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S., Archdiocese of San Antonio
  • Bishop Cantú, Diocese of Las Cruces
  • Bishop Arturo Cepeda, Archdiocese of Detroit
  • Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., Archdiocese of Seattle
  • Bishop Richard García, Diocese of Monterey
  • Bishop Armando Ochoa, Diocese of Fresno
  • Bishop Nelson Pérez, Diocese of Rockville Centre
  • Bishop Plácido Rodríguez, C.M.F., Diocese of Lubbock
  • Bishop Alberto Rojas, Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Bishop Alexander Salazar, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • Bishop Jaime Soto, Diocese of Sacramento
  • Bishop James Tamayo, Diocese of Laredo
  • Bishop Luis Zarama, Archdiocese of Atlanta

Today's Greatly Underserved Population

on Friday, 31 January 2014.

Fr. Joe Corpora, CSC, featured on the USCCB Blog

Fr.Corpora USCCBBLOGFr. Joe Corpora, CSC, Director of University School Partnerships and the Catholic School Advantage Campaign, was featured on the USCCB Blog with a reflection on the Church's moral obligation to provide access to Catholic schools for today's most greatly underserved population - Latinos. 

"We have a historic opportunity now to repeat history for the Latino population. Latinos are the nation’s fastest growing school age population and the least likely to graduate from high school. More than 70 percent of practicing Catholics in the United States under the age of 35 are Latinos. This is the future of the Church, and in many places, it is the current reality."

Read the full article here: Access to Catholic Schools by Underserved Populations

Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

on Friday, 13 December 2013.

The homily from Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C., at the special bi-lingual Mass celebrated on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the University of Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart

GuadalupeSomewhere in the 25-year period between the time I was ordained a priest here in 1984 and 2009, when I was assigned to live and work at Notre Dame, the Guadalupe Mass at Notre Dame came into being and grew up. I remember hearing about it while I was a pastor. People raved about what a great Mass it was.

To be honest, I remember thinking, "Oh yeah, a bunch of Anglos singing 'Pan de Vida' thinking that it's really a song that would actually be sung in Mexico." And at first I thought that Pan de Vida was another fast food restaurant competing with Panda Bear. I remember thinking, "this is Notre Dame's nod to the growing Latino population in the United States, but that's about it."

Then in July of 2009 I was assigned to live and work at Notre Dame. And a few months later I was asked to preside and preach at this Mass. While it is quite different than the Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe that I knew in Arizona and in Oregon, it was nonetheless very beautiful.

Now in my fifth year at Notre Dame, I see this Mass as a hope and a promise of all that we can become here at Notre Dame and in the Church.

I love the Guadalupe Mass (as it has come to be known) for a couple of reasons. All Marian feasts celebrated at this beloved university named in honor of Our Lady take on a special meaning. I really love this Mass because it attempts to bring together people of different races, languages, and ways of life to share in the one Eucharist of Christ the Lord.

A buzz word for our day is diversity and inclusion. Every organization from the Church to Intel to Notre Dame and to the banking world talks about diversity and inclusion. That discussion is very much alive at Notre Dame today, which is a wonderful thing. Often our conversation about diversity, however, uses words like integration, assimilation, and mainstreaming. I want to suggest to you that these are not the correct words, concepts, or ideas to guide our thinking about diversity and inclusion. Integration does not necessarily honor what each culture brings. It wants to make us come out looking the same, which would not only be an unfortunate outcome, but one that is really impossible. And we'd all be so boring.

The question that we should be asking is not "How can we integrate Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, or any other culture into Notre Dame?" The questions that we should be asking are "How can the Hispanic culture enrich life at Notre Dame; How can the African-American, Asian-American, and European cultures enrich life at Notre Dame; How can the various cultures that make up Notre Dame all enrich one another?"

It's clear which is better for the Church. Understanding and celebrating other cultures makes the Church that much richer. And from a Christological point of view, what more reveals the face of Our Lord? One culture and one language or many cultures, languages, and ways of life seeking the one face of God. I think that this liturgy is a splendid example of how several cultures at Notre Dame can enrich one another and walk with one another in our common search for God.

Think for a moment of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her very appearance brought different cultures together in an enriching way. In 1531, Juan Diego, a poor, uneducated Aztec Indian from modern day Mexico City shows his tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the wealthy, educated Bishop Juan de Zumarraga of Spain. Together they fall on their knees in prayer to Mary. She brought them together. Her very person invited the conquering Spaniards and the conquered native peoples to come together in brotherhood and sisterhood. It wasn't easy or quick, but that was her message.

Hundreds of years later, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the mother of one America, from the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost regions of Canada.

Look at how our Blessed Mother is honored all over the world: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Carmel of the Maipú, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Lavang, Our Lady of Africa, Our Lady of the Angels, Our Lady of Luján, Our Lady of Charity, Our Lady of Altagracia, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, and dozens and dozens more.

These titles – some geographical, others that reveal her essence, and others that do both – speak of the various ways and cultures in which Our Lady is loved by people all over the world. All of these cultures love and show devotion to Mary, but in different ways, forms, and languages. Mary draws all people to Her Son, and she does so through different cultures and ways of life and languages.

Mary can be our guide as we go forward so that all the races, languages and ways of life that make up Notre Dame – and the Church – may enrich one another; and through her powerful intercession, may draw us all closer to the heart of Her Son.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Fr. Joseph V. Corpora C.S.C.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12, 2013

Catholic School Advantage Campaign Newsletter

on Thursday, 14 November 2013.

Queridos amigos,

I am so happy to send you this first issue of our Catholic School Advantage (CSA) Campaign newsletter. So much has happened since Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, convoked the Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children and Families in Catholic Schools in 2008.

In fact, so much has happened that we have not found the time to keep you informed of the many initiatives, programs, and projects that have taken place since then. We are now committed to sending a quarterly e-newsletter that will highlight some of what is going on with the CSA Campaign. In it you will find updates on what we're doing, where we are, success stories, and links to other sites that may be of interest to you.

It would be difficult to detail all that has happened in the past four years, but the current landscape of Catholic schools in the U.S serves as both encouragement and a humble reminder of the work left to done. While the number of children in Catholic schools continues to be down, we signs of hope as the number and percentage of Latino children has increased. And although we have done a lot of work, there is still so much more to do. But that's okay, because a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Else, what's a heaven for?

Perhaps more than anything else, we have helped to begin a national conversation about this very critical issue. Rather than list the dozens of places where the CSA has been presented and where it is active, I would like to reference a comment that I heard once while sitting in a meeting. I was a visitor to the annual NCADDHM (National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry) in Little Rock, Arkansas in June of 2011. At one of the sessions, the speaker said, "Notre Dame has successfully engaged an entire Church in the question of Latinos and Catholic Schools." The speaker did not know me nor did he know that someone from Notre Dame was present." So that's quite a compliment, as well as testament to the work we have done thus far.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Please let me know if you have any questions, and please keep the CSA Campaign in your prayers. I promise to remember you often in my own inadequate prayers.

All best wishes and God's abundant blessings to you from Our Lady's University.


Father Joe Corpora, C.S.C.

Catholic School Leaders Explore Strategies for Outreach to Latino Community in CSA Summer Programs

on Tuesday, 12 November 2013.

IMG 1967The summer of 2013 proved to be one of tremendous growth for two of the Catholic School Advantage Campaign's biggest initiatives – the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) and the School Pastors Institute (SPI). Both of these conferences – in their second and third year, respectively – brought together leaders in K-12 Catholic education from around the country to discuss new strategies to better reach out to the Latino community. 

In June, ACE welcomed 32 Catholic school principals, representing 18 (arch)dioceses, to the campus of Notre Dame for the second annual Latino Enrollment Institute – a 4-day workshop focused exclusively on ways to increase Latino enrollment in Catholic Schools. School principals, along with two to three of their staff and faculty members, gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding Latino recruitment and enrollment.  

The LEI Design Team, which consists of eight Catholic school principals (and former principals) who have all successfully turned around a school on the brink of closing, presented various strategies to more effectively market to and engage Latino families, sharing personal testimonies about their efforts to reach out to the Latino community, as well as the new life that these families brought to their schools. The mentor principals will each continue to work with a group of LEI schools throughout the current school year, aiding in implementation through direct correspondence and visits to the schools.

IMG 0827

In July, 105 pastors who have the privilege – and indeed, challenge – of overseeing a parish school, gathered at Notre Dame for the third annual School Pastors Institute. The SPI is an innovative pastoral and administrative formation conference for school pastors on core issues of Catholic identity, financial management and advancement, formation of personnel, and of course, ways to more effectively engage Latino families and invite them into fuller participation in Catholic schools. The pastors in attendance were each nominated by their respective (arch)bishop in an effort to better equip them to handle the increasingly complex challenges and opportunities associated with serving as the pastor of a parish with a school. This past summer, the SPI, like the LEI, welcomed its largest group of participants yet. The 105 pastors in attendance represented 38 (arch)dioceses.

While the Latino Enrollment Institute and the School Pastors Institute are just two of the many innovative workshops offered during the busy "ACE Summer," they have truly become the core of the Catholic School Advantage Campaign's mission strategy. Local leadership that understands and knows how to respond to the specific needs of the Latino community, whether it be pastoral or administrative, is essential if our Catholic schools are to succeed in offering the best possible education to the children who need it most. The tremendous growth of both the Latino Enrollment Institute and the School Pastors Institute has been a testament to the desire and commitment of Catholic school leaders to fulfill this mission.

Learn more about:

The Latino Enrollment Institute

The School Pastors Institute

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