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ACE's Catholic School Advantage campaign: Updates on Outreach

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 06 December 2011.

A series of reports on change and hope for Latino students

Next week, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is honored as Patroness of the Americas.

The Dec. 12 feast is a good opportunity for Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) to share our aspirations and activities in our work to welcome more Latino children into Catholic K-12 schools. ACE's Catholic School Advantage campaign includes collaborations with many partners across the United States, and we already have seen some stories that reflect the goals and hopes of this initiative.

The starting point for the endeavor was a report by the Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children and Families in Catholic Schools, issued on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2009. That report, To Nurture the Soul of a Nation: Latino Families, Catholic Schools, and Educational Opportunity, warned of an academic achievement gap besetting the Latino population and the need to bring more Latino students into Catholic schools where they could gain access to an excellent education.

We will use this week, starting today, to help an array of stakeholders and friends of Catholic education--the extended community of ACE and the Institute for Educational Initiatives—to get to know the Catholic School Advantage campaign better. Over the next several days, the ACE website will present a series of stories that represent snapshots of the campaign's perspectives and people.

ACE's Mission in Ireland

on Wednesday, 30 November 2011.

Responding to a Need for Faith and Trust

Turmoil besetting the Catholic Church in Ireland has deepened the challenges facing the country's Catholic schools, and ACE has been working with leading Irish educators to respond to these challenges.

ACE, which has had various involvements in Ireland from the late 1990s, has increased its activity in Ireland since 2006 with a vibrant ACE Advocates community and the hosting of several conferences in Ireland and at Notre Dame for high level educational leaders from the primary and secondary sector.

ACE also recruits and selects two Irish teachers to participate in the ACE Teaching Fellows program each year. The upcoming 2012 visit by Notre Dame to Ireland provides ACE with an excellent opportunity to deepen our mission in Ireland.

The ACE Ireland mission, which has been set by Irish educators themselves, has three basic goals, says Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., co-founder of ACE and a leader in ACE's work in Ireland.

"The goals are to develop future leaders for the schools, to support the faith life of teachers, and to build partnerships between educators in Ireland and the United States," says Father Sean.

Those goals address concerns about the Catholic identity embodied in Ireland's Catholic schools at a time when the Church there is reeling from a clergy sexual abuse scandal and rapid declines in regular church attendance.

December Retreat Helps ACErs Look Back and Look Forward

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 29 November 2011.

One of ACE's longest traditions—and a rich source of memories for ACE teachers—will be convened for the eighteenth time in early December. Members of the ACE 17 and ACE 18 cohorts in ACE Teaching Fellows will gather at a retreat center outside Austin, Texas, for the annual ACE December Retreat.

About 170 teachers serving in 26 dioceses will mark the half-way point in the school year with experiences of prayer, personal reflection, community-building, and fun during the three-day weekend, starting Dec. 2.

They will be joined by numerous ACE faculty and staff members who support the teachers throughout the year. They will also be joined in spirit by ACE alumni for whom the retreat served as a milestone in their formation.

From the Field: Emily Lazor

on Friday, 25 November 2011.

"ACE is unique," says Emily Lazor of the STT community in Jackson, MS, "because it allows you to perform a much-needed civil service while also furthering the Church's mission of evangelism—a combination I found difficult to find in other long-term service programs."

This high school Spanish and Religion teacher has thrown herself into both service and mission this year—and speaks eloquently about what she has gained.

Being an ACE teacher is challenging, she says, but she deeply appreciates her students' excitement about learning Spanish and growing in their faith. "It is wonderful to see the world opened up to them, or to see their confidence grow as they can suddenly speak to you in another language," Emily says.

She continues, "Teaching in a school where prayer is not only accepted but also encouraged has taught me a lot about how acutely aware these students are of others' needs - both locally and around the world. They care deeply for one another, but also for people they have never met and will never meet, and I think a lot of that has to do with the formation they are receiving from a Catholic education."

While she's not been teaching long, Emily testifies to how she has grown from the experience—academically, professionally and spiritually. Much of the credit goes to her students, who have brought her deep joy both in and outside of the classroom. "I try my best each day to offer them something meaningful," she says, "but I am always humbled that more often than not they are teaching me about what is important, true, and beautiful about life. Being able to thank them and in turn affirm them for that is truly a gift."

5 Minutes with Christ: Time for Teachers

on Tuesday, 22 November 2011.

The perfect Christmas gift for your favorite teacher!

Busy teachers have a new resource to help them build meaningful prayer time into their day. A just-released book, 5 Minutes with Christ, edited by Rev. Lou DelFra, C.S.C., and Ann Primus Berends, has assembled inspirational reflections crafted by graduates and associates of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Focusing on the ministry of Christ the Teacher, 5 Minutes with Christ provides Catholic educators with the spiritual nourishment they need during their busy days. Each reflection is based on an event in the life of Jesus and follows a simple format: an excerpt from one of the gospels; a personal reflection by a teacher; and a short prayer.

Teachers can use these reflections and prayers as starting points for their own daily devotion. The book is ideal for teacher retreats and spiritual learning communities among faculty members.

Father Lou DelFra is ACE's Director of Pastoral Life. Ann Primus Berends is an Associate Director in ACE.The book can be purchased from the publisher at the Ave Maria Press website.

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