Council discusses Catholic Community Schools, reviews communications

Categories: Around the Diocese

Linda Kaiser, director of Catholic Education Ministries for the St. Cloud Diocese, explained plans for the structure of the new Catholic Community Schools system in the St. Cloud metro area and answered questions from members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council at their meeting Sept. 12 at St. Francis Convent in Little Falls.

What is the DPC?
The Diocesan Pastoral Council is a consultative body established by the bishop in accord with canon law. Representatives include members of the deaneries, youth, the religious communities, the presbyterate and diaconate, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the Latino community. The bishop convenes the DPC in order to seek input regarding pastoral concerns.

Some responsibilities of DPC members include reflecting on the role of the church and how it is being carried out through structures, programs and parish life in the diocese and maintaining relationships with parishes and communities, seeking their input on specific issues and reporting regularly to the bishop.

The bishop relies on the input and feedback of the DPC as a way of staying in touch with the people of the diocese in all the diverse regions, social conditions and professions it affords.

“Our goal is to be a community that works with our children, that is not individual, that is collaborative, to give our kids and teachers the best resources and the best support at the most affordable cost,” she said.

Members were interested in hearing how the creation of the metro area school system might impact outlying areas. Bishop Donald Kettler said he hopes this system might become a model for other parishes to use in their regions, especially those that belong to clusters.

Bishop Kettler said he wants everyone to have access to a Catholic school, even if a parish doesn’t have a school building on its property.

“We need to get over the idea that this is ‘my’ parish school or ‘your’ parish school,” he said. “These are ‘our’ Catholic schools.”

Members raised questions about how parishes are currently subsidizing Catholic schools and that they’ve heard that it’s a heavy burden for some parishes. Kaiser said these issues are part of what the CCS steering committee is looking at in this process.

Bishop Kettler directed the committee to provide him with a plan for CCS for his review by December.

“Everybody has a school. We want to make sure that every child, every family that wants to go to a Catholic school has one to go t0,” Kaiser said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done and that’s why Bishop [Kettler] has gathered you, me, us here today, to talk about how we can ensure that happens.”

Additionally, the council reported results from four questions Bishop Kettler requested at the last meeting (see the May 22 issue of The Visitor) regarding communication between the diocese and parishes as well as the communication through The Visitor and its social media platforms.

Overall, responses were positive although some parishes reported a disconnect between the diocese and their parish. The Visitor received numerous suggestions including trying to reach more people in the outlying areas, providing more local stories and more youth-related information. Others reported that the use of social media in parishes and among parishioners varies greatly.

Bishop Kettler said he will continue to review communication practices and work toward improving lines of communication between the diocese and parishes.

Sharing resources

The next assignment for the DPC includes addressing questions about sharing resources. Bishop Kettler asked council members to connect with parish leaders and liaisons and to report back to him at the November meeting.

  • Bishop Kettler asked members to share any feedback they hear about Catholic Community Schools in the St. Cloud metro area.
  • He asked members to start dialogue about sharing resources in other ways. Are there greater ways for cooperation in rural schools?
  • Are there ways parishes can move toward greater cooperation, particularly those in cluster relationships?

Bishop Kettler says he has no intention of closing any schools or parishes and that members should feel welcome to share that with their groups. “Sharing resources is not a sign that a parish or school is on the way to closing,” he said. “It should be regarded as a positive way to remove the ‘silo’ mentality and work together for cooperation.”

The Diocesan Pastoral Council will meet again Nov. 14.

For updates on the Catholic Community Schools process, visit the diocese’s website at www.stcdio.org. Click on “St. Cloud-area Catholic schools initiative.”