To Teach as Jesus Did:
Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
October 31, 2014
“We’ll Choose Hope”
As this beautiful month of October comes to a close, I doubt that I’m alone in feeling awed and almost overwhelmed by the many remarkable events that united us as a Catholic educational community during the past several weeks.
Our biennial Catholic Educators’ Convention on October 10, with its theme of “Leading the Learning,” brought together over 3,000 Catholic educators from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and, for the first time, the Diocese of Madison in an experience of high quality professional development, solidarity in ministry, and spiritual motivation. Once again we’re proud to congratulate the seven schools that received Exemplary Recognition at the Convention luncheon: All Saints Catholic School, Kenosha (Catholic Identity and Marketing / Recruitment); Christ Child Academy, Sheboygan (Catholic Identity); Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (Catholic Identity); St. John Vianney School, Brookfield (Information Technology and Media Skills; Innovative Programs, and Marketing / Recruitment); St. Eugene School, Fox Point (Innovative Programs); St. Charles Borromeo School, Milwaukee (Marketing / Recruitment), and St. Mary Parish School, Menomonee Falls (Service Learning and Civic Engagement.)
On Friday, October 24, an emotionally powerful celebration took place as Bishop Richard Sklba, assisted by Father Tim Kitzke, reblessed the chapel for the new Notre Dame Primary School on south 27th Street in Milwaukee. The former St. Lawrence Church was filled with School Sisters of Notre Dame, students, parents and their younger children, board members, and many other school supporters, creating an atmosphere that blended faithfulness to tradition with almost visceral hope for the future.
Of course the Soles for Catholic Education Walk on October 25 provided a panorama of white shirts, spirit wear, banners, and movement, as over 9,000 walkers and workers expressed their support for our ministry of education and evangelization. To have experienced that glorious morning, at least from my perspective, was to have known a bit of heaven.
On Sunday, October 26, the new Cristo Rey Jesuit High School held its first Open House in the former St. Florian School in West Milwaukee for a huge crowd of prospective students and their families. Another chapter in the history of Catholic education in the Archdiocese began with this formal launch of the Cristo Rey model of schooling that integrates rigorous academics, professional work experiences, and spiritual development for young women and men of all faiths and limited financial means.
Finally, on October 27, I was privileged to attend the Portraits in Leadership Dinner for Messmer Catholic Schools at which former Messmer High School and current Marquette University High School principal, Jeff Monday, was among the honorees. This event, filled with evidence of Messmer’s commitment to empowering some of Milwaukee’s most disadvantaged students through a systematic focus on their literacy needs, prompted me afterward to thank Messmer Catholic Schools president, Jim Piatt, for his leadership in this fundamentally important effort. I share his response here, on this Eve of All Saints, as an encouragement to us all. No matter the challenges of the ministry that is our own path to holiness, may we not lose heart:
“The triangle of poverty – illiteracy - family dysfunction in the lives of so many children can be grinding to everyone in our schools who ministers to them. It sometimes depresses me that, just as Jesus said, ‘The poor you will always have with you…,’ we face the reality that ‘the illiterate may always be with us, too.’
Yet, we'll choose hope and dig in deeper to attack this issue at its root.”
With hope and gratitude,
Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools