Good news of Catholic education shared at bishop’s breakfast

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

“You are here today because you care deeply about bringing God’s love to our young people. Is there any greater calling? Is there any greater purpose in life than this?” Bishop Donald Kettler asked a crowd of about 350 people at Breakfast with the Bishop April 29 at the College of St. Benedict.

This year’s event in St. Joseph celebrated Catholic schools and educators while raising $43,725 in cash and pledge donations for The Catholic Foundation’s scholarship initiative, which supports Catholic students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the 29 Catholic schools in the Diocese of St. Cloud.

This event was the third of its kind. One held in May 2014 at the college raised $72,000 and a second in Fergus Falls in October collected $11,500.

The Catholic Schools Scholarship endowment was established in 2010 as a way to assist families with tuition expenses. About 112 scholarships have been distributed diocesan-wide thus far.

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Bishop Donald Kettler laughs during the Breakfast with the Bishop event at the College of St. Benedict April 29. Photo by Paul Middlestaedt / For The Visitor

“God’s love for us is so great, so deep,” Bishop Kettler said in his address. “It is an unfailing love, one which takes us by the hand and supports us in good times and, particularly, in bad times. It lifts us up and leads us on and eventually leads us to that kingdom forever. We must bring this message to all our people. I believe our Catholic schools can do this for our young people and do it in a great way.”

Linda Kaiser, director of Catholic Education Ministries of the Diocese of St. Cloud, also addressed the crowd, recognizing the contributions of the religious sisters who founded the Catholic schools in the diocese as well as all Catholic educators.

“There is always good news in Catholic education because we share the Good News of Jesus Christ,” she said.

There are more than 5,000 students in Catholic schools, pre-K through 12th grade, in the diocese.

“Next year Bishop and I would like to see 7,000,” she said.

Kaiser said Catholic schools in the diocese are implementing groundbreaking methods of teaching. St. Katharine Drexel in St. Cloud and St. Francis Xavier in Sartell, for example, will be the first Catholic schools in the United States to be considered Marzano schools.

“This distinction promotes school leadership teams [that] focus on quality teaching — helping teachers grow in their profession as well as helping students be aware of their own learning and identify where they need extra help,” Kaiser said. “We are on a creative, innovative method of teaching academic excellence, but more importantly, we are about spiritual formation. We are all teaching the Catholic faith.”

Bishop Kettler has made it no secret that Catholic education is one of his top priorities. In a Feb. 13 column in The Visitor, he said Catholic schools are “unmatched in providing top-notch education grounded in Gospel values, community and service to others.”

“They are — and always have been — essential to the church’s evangelizing mission, building up the kingdom of God in our diocese and beyond,” he wrote.

Strengthening schools

Under Bishop Kettler’s direction, efforts are underway to create a new single Catholic school system in the St. Cloud area.

“Many of us are working together to plan and develop a cooperative system within the greater St. Cloud metro area” that could also serve as a model for other Catholic schools in the diocese, he said.

The new school system will enable schools to “do even better things and to not compete with one another [and] to attract a greater number of children into our classrooms because our schools are exceedingly good,” he said.

It would involve sharing best practices and developing a common salary schedule for teachers and common tuition rates.

It would also “allow faculty and staff to move between our schools to share the very best we have and are with each other and especially with our young people.

“I believe that this needs to happen,” he said. “If it doesn’t, our schools will not be what they could be. This is a big task, sometimes even a frightening task, but I believe it should happen and it will happen.”