This past summer marked the Catholic School Advantage Campaign’s sixth 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, it has consistently garnered greater attention each year as word has spread, but this summer saw the most significant increase in participation as the SPI expanded to offer two separate weeks. 180 pastors from 67 different (arch)dioceses attended the Institute in July, bringing the total number of pastors who have participated in the SPI since its inception to 675, representing 127 different (arch)dioceses.
We were honored to welcome the Most Reverend Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Indianapolis, and the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, as the keynote speakers. In total, the SPI featured 18 different presenters and panelists 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, to name a few.
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 school models, pastors of rural parish schools, and international priests who may be new to the U.S. Catholic school system.
It is because of the school pastor’s unique authority to articulate both the urgency and importance of this work that the School Pastors’ Institute plays such a vital role in the overall mission of the Catholic School Advantage Campaign. It is our hope that all who were in attendance this summer return to their parishes with a renewed sense of zeal for the Catholic school entrusted to their care, and we look forward to sharing with you the success stories that are sure to emerge over the coming year.