My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As I reflect upon the New Evangelization, I also contemplate the various roles and ministries embraced within it. Catholic schools and academies certainly remain a vital component. One may recall the words of Blessed John Paul II: “Catholic schools are at once places of evangelization, of complete formation, of inculturation, of apprenticeship in a lively dialogue between young people of different religions and social backgrounds.”
It is with this profound vision of Catholic education that the Diocese of Brooklyn launched the Preserving the Vision Strategic Plan for its elementary schools in 2008. Developed together by clergy, lay people, educators and professionals of various fields, Preserving the Vision is, most simply, a strategic planning process to ensure the success and vitality of Catholic education within our diocese. With numerous goals and strategies, it is an ongoing initiative taking place in every Catholic school and academy. It is a living process that continuously grows and develops.
One key priority of Preserving the Vision is to transition all schools to academies by 2017. With 34 academies established to date, we are joyful witnesses of growth. Allow me to share with you the growth of our academies, the importance of the academy model and what it means within our diocese.
We know that when Catholic schools began, they were more often than not run by religious orders and governed by the pastor of the associated parish. I am grateful for the religious orders that gave so much to our children, but we cannot neglect that the situation today has changed. The New Evangelization embraces the reality that many of the ministries in our Church today are carried out by lay people.
With the academy model, the governance of our Catholic schools shifts. This is the difference between a school and an academy. Catholic school governance relies heavily on the principal and the pastor, while Catholic academy governance relies on a strategic balance of boards made up of both clergy and lay people.
The diagram pictured depicts the two-tiered governance model made up of Members and Directors that each new Catholic academy enjoys. These two groups share in the governance of the academy in different ways.
The first tier is the Board of Members. Members of the academies are generally the pastors of an area and the sponsors of the academy. Among their responsibilities is to appoint the Directors of the academy and ensure the academy’s overall Catholic identity. In addition, the Vicar General and any other Members I may appoint shall be ex-officio members, including the Superintendent of Schools and the Pastors/Administrators of the parishes aligned to the academy.
The second tier is the Board of Directors. The Directors of the academies are key. As the main governing unit of the academy, they develop the policies that protect and enhance the academy’s mission and work to ensure its future through strategic planning and outreach. The Board of Directors is composed of at least five-to-nine persons approved by the Members, each possessing a competency in one or more of the following areas: finance, education, development, marketing or facilities.
It is due to the careful administration of our Directors that the principals at our academies can truly be instruction leaders and the pastors can truly be the pastoral leaders. As I am grateful for the religious orders that ran our schools for decades, I am also grateful for the Board Directors that run our academies today. Their generous commitment to the future success of our academies gives both the diocese and the families entrusted to their care great hope in challenging times.
As the academies continue to grow within the diocese, there is a great need for Board Directors. The Church needs individuals who are passionate about Catholic education and willing to share their expertise in areas of finance, facilities management, institutional advancement, marketing and public relations, to serve in the ministry that is Board Direction. I pray that more will consider serving in this vital ministry. If you think Christ may be asking you to serve, please see the Board Directors ad on Page 11 for details on where to send your resume.
Preserving the Vision continues to put out into the deep, and our Catholic schools continue to serve the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn. I know that you will join your prayers with mine for the growth and future success of our Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens.