This afternoon I took part in the regular meeting of the Board of Trust Administrators (BOTA) of our Regional Catholic School - Queen of Angels - which I mentioned in yesterday's post. We gather for our BOTA meeting just about every month at my place, and our meeting usually includes the five pastors, one of the associates, the principal and the school finance person and the development person. Today we were joined for the first time by the relatively new Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Greensburg Diocese, Dr. Maureen Marstellar.
Dr. Marstellar shared her vision of Catholic School Education and pointed out a few specific areas of concern. We had a great discussion of these matters, and she expressed her gratitude for our openness and candor, and our commitment to Queen of Angels. At the heart of our discussion were two main challenges: enrollment and financial stability. Neither are easy topics to conquer, and both demand creativity and resolve in order that our Catholic School - in fact all Catholic Schools - continue and flourish.
The financial challenges can be met as we address the enrollment issue. But the challenge we have to enrollment is threefold: a generation of parents that do not have the same intense loyalty and experience to Catholic Schools as past generations ... the high cost of tuition (in an area that was "brought up on" minimal tuition and the right of every Catholic student to a Catholic School education) ... and a number of good to excellent school districts within our region providing services that we simply cannot compete with.
But our strengths are there as well: a long standing commitment in our parishes to Catholic School Education ... an excellent faculty and administration ... loyal parents and supporters ... and great kids.
We are committed to do all that we can to continue this outstanding tradition rooted in Immaculate Conception, Saint Agnes and Saint Edward schools and now found in Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School.
I shared with the group a way of ensuring great enrollment for the school that I ran across. In one of my assignments that had a school since the early 1900's, I ran across some old bulletins where the pastor made it very clear that if you were a Catholic parent, you had the obligation and responsibility to send your child to the Catholic School - under penalty of mortal sin! I am not sure that this was the "law of the Church" and I am quite sure that this approach would not go over well today - in fact, despite my support of Catholic School education, you would never hear it from my mouth. But encouragement and support, rooted in gratitude for my Catholic School Education (from Kindergarten through Graduate School in Theology), are always on my lips and in my heart.