Archive for category Press Release

Archdiocese Announces Reinvesting in our Schools Initiatives

Catholic Schools: Reinvesting In Our Future

Download the Reinvesting In Our Future Booklet (pdf)

On August 11, 2011 the work of the Catholic Schools Commission culminated in the announcement of initiatives aimed at reinvesting in schools throughout this local Church. These initiatives will strengthen schools for this generation and generations to come and focus on four areas: governance, educational excellence, advancement, and funding models. All work is infused with a strong sense of Catholic identity which is central to all Catholic schools and a core to our mission.

 

Just as the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Plan in October 2010, these efforts are aimed at a culture of increased collaboration, ongoing evaluation, and greater accountability.

Archbishop Nienstedt clearly stated his vision for schools in this Archdiocese on August 11, 2011, “The overall goal for all Catholic schools is to prepare young men and young women to be virtuous disciples of Christ and, as such, to be active leaders in our Catholic Church as well as our civic communities; bringing their gifts of faith and reason to the issues and challenges of our world today.”

The Archbishop also declared a firm commitment to Catholic schools, “As our Catholic schools are an indispensible tool for the mission of the Church, I believe that this entire local Church should share responsibility for supporting our Catholic schools.”

The Catholic Schools Commission was established in January 2011 to build upon the work done over the past two years by the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Task Force and the Alliance for Catholic Educationconsultants from the University of Notre Dame. The Commission engaged with stakeholders across the Archdiocese throughout its work. Consultation opportunities included focus groups, meetings, and web surveys participated in by more than 3,000 school and parish leaders, parents, teachers, and others. The Commission submitted its recommendations to the Archbishop in June 2011. After a period of careful review, the Archbishop announced the approved initiatives in August 2011.

Visit the Office of Catholic Schools page to learn more about the initiatives to reinvest in our schools.

Three Catholic Schools Make Difficult Decision to Close at End of 2010-11 School Year

St Paul, MN, January 14, 2011 – Pastors, principals and other leaders at three Catholic schools in the Archdiocese have made the difficult but necessary decision to close their schools at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, due to lack of long-term sustainability. All three schools will remain open through the end of the current school year. These schools are: St Joseph School of Red Wing (43 students); San Miguel Middle School of Minneapolis (60 students); and St. Mathias School of Hampton (22 students).

St. Joseph and St. Mathias schools went through an intensive urgent review process, as outlined in the Strategic Plan for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which was released in October 2010. The urgent review process is part of a strategic planning process for all schools involving ongoing evaluation and greater accountability intended to strengthen Catholic schools as a whole in the Archdiocese. San Miguel Middle School, an independent school administered by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, completed its own review process, focused on long-term financial sustainability, in making its determination.

“The closing of a school is always difficult,” said Marty Frauenheim, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “The Archdiocese is working closely with school leaders to ease the transition for affected families.”

Affected families have received a letter from their school leaders indicating how they can be assisted in enrolling their children in a nearby Catholic school. Arrangements are being made with neighboring Catholic schools regarding transportation and tuition. Leaders at those neighboring schools are welcoming families affected by the school closings. Efforts are also being made to help affected employees. All families seeking assistance in finding a Catholic school which meets their needs are invited to call the Catholic Schools Hotline at 612-SCHOOLS (612-724-6657).

St. Joseph and St. Mathias schools began the urgent review process in October 2010 with the forming of local school task forces. Those local task forces engaged in careful analysis and review of data related to financial management, academic quality, Catholic identity (adherence to archdiocesan religion standards and other guidelines), and advancement (marketing, development), as outlined in the Strategic Plan under the criteria for viable schools. The urgent review process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders at each individual school during which the local task force detailed the current status of the school as relates to each of the viability criteria. The local task force then developed a recommendation for the long term future of their school based on what they learned through this process. Each task force was charged with developing a realistic and specific plan for implementing their recommendation.

In mid-December, members of the local school task forces individually presented their recommendations regarding the future of their particular schools to a Review Board made up of archdiocesan staff and others. The Review Board reflected with local school task force representatives on the sustainability of their school in light of the insights gained from the urgent review process. Leaders at all schools which went through the urgent review process say they greatly appreciated the opportunity for reflection.

After these three closings at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, there will be 95 Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. During the 2010-2011 school year, more than 30,000 students are attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. Catholic school enrollment trends generally mirror that of public schools which are also challenged with a decline in school age population.

The Archdiocese remains firmly committed to Catholic schools, which offer benefits not only to students and families, but also to the greater community. Catholic schools in the Archdiocese save Minnesota taxpayers roughly 300 million dollars annually in costs related to public school education. Catholic schools have an impressive 99% graduation rate.

“The outcome of our new structure of ongoing evaluation and greater accountability in the Archdiocese will be even stronger Catholic schools,” said Superintendent Frauenheim. “We want parents to know that they can confidently choose any Catholic school in the Archdiocese and know that their children will receive a solid Catholic education. Catholic schools offer high quality academic programming taught in a safe and nurturing learning environment infused with the virtues that build the character of students throughout their lives. Catholic school leaders are committed to continually raising the bar to build on our tradition of excellence.”

For more information, please see the Catholic Schools website or Strategic Decisions Regarding Schools (pdf) within the Strategic Plan document.

Archbishop Nienstedt responds to petitions for appeal of parish mergers

Saint Paul, MN, November 19, 2010 — In response to information received from parishioners in their petitions to reconsider parish merger decisions announced by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis last month, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt is modifying two of the 14 original mergers. He has confirmed the original merger decisions in the remaining 12 mergers.

In the New Prague area merger involving St. Benedict, St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph, St. Scholastica, St. Thomas and St. Wenceslaus, the Archbishop has modified the merger to remove St. Thomas of Derrynane (in the community of Saint Thomas) from the merger. Instead, St. Thomas will merge with St. Anne of LeSueur. The other details of the St. Wenceslaus merger remain the same: the remaining four parishes will merge into St. Wenceslaus and the St. John the Evangelist, St. Scholastica, and St. Wenceslaus buildings are identified to remain open. The Archbishop has issued new decrees for the New Prague area merger as well as for the new merger of the parishes of St. Thomas and St. Anne.

In the case of the northeast Minneapolis merger of Holy Cross, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Clement, and St. Hedwig, the Archbishop has confirmed his original decision to merge these four parishes, with modifications as outlined in a new decree of merger. First, the name of the combined parish community after the merger will be Holy Cross. Second, the effective date of the merger has been changed to take place upon the retirement of Father Earl Simonson as pastor of St. Clement parish. Father Simonson’s retirement will take place by July 1, 2013. Finally, as a point of clarification, the Archbishop has reaffirmed the Polish nature of the combined parish community, including the continued offering of Mass in Polish and the Archbishop has stated that Mass will continue to be offered onsite to residents of Catholic Eldercare facilities that are adjacent to the church buildings of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Hedwig.

With the revisions announced today to parish mergers taken into account, 21 parishes are scheduled to merge into 15 receiving parishes. The net effect of the changes, after implementation of all the announced mergers, is a total of 192 remaining parishes compared to the current number of 213 parishes.

A merger decision does not necessarily mean that the merging parish’s church building will close. Decisions regarding the church buildings of the newly combined parish community will be made by local leaders in consultation with the Archbishop and Presbyteral Council, a representative body of priests.

Parishioners at parishes affected by these new decrees of merger, who believe they are negatively impacted by a decision, have until November 29th to request in writing that the Archbishop reconsider the decision. Parishioners affected by the 12 mergers confirmed by the Archbishop may appeal the Archbishop’s appeal response to the Vatican. More information about the appeal of a parish merger may be found at http://planning.archspm.org/wp-content/uploads/Appendix-A.pdf.

“As we embark on the changes recommended by the Archdiocesan Strategic Plan,” Archbishop Nienstedt said, “I ask all Catholics to remember that we are one local Church whose greatest gift is our faith in Jesus Christ and in his Body, the Church. Despite the challenges involved, especially for those affected by the mergers proposed, I ask our Catholic faithful to remain strong in the practice of their faith and equally strong in their resolve to continue building the new parish communities that will begin to unfold. Throughout this process, I encourage us to pray for each other.”

Archdiocesan staff members are working with pastors, lay leaders, and parishioners at affected parishes during this time of transition. Pending appeals, the first round of mergers will go into effect on January 1, 2011. Changes will roll out over the following months and years. The changes will not all happen at the same time.

The Archdiocese announced its Strategic Plan the weekend of October 16th and 17th, 2010. The plan shapes the vision for the future of the local Church and restructures parishes to foster a more vibrant faith community.  It is intended to ensure the Church’s continued vitality for the 800,000 Catholics in the 12 county area it serves. The Strategic Plan is the result of 20 months of study and consultation, that includes the input of thousands of people from across the Archdiocese — pastors and other clergy, parish and Catholic school leaders and staff, parishioners and Catholic school families. A 16 member Strategic Planning Task Force comprised of clergy, religious, and lay members was charged with gathering and analyzing this input, as well as demographic and other data, when formulating recommendations to the Archbishop.

Official Press Release (pdf)

Archdiocese Announces Strategic Plan

90% of parishes will remain

Saint Paul, MN, October 16, 2010 — Worshippers at all Masses this weekend are learning about the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis’ Strategic Plan that shapes the vision for the future of the local Church and restructures parishes to foster a more vibrant faith community. The plan is intended to ensure the Church’s continued vitality for the 800,000 Catholics in the 12 county area it serves.  The Strategic Plan is the result of 20 months of study and consultation, that includes the input of thousands of people from across the Archdiocese — pastors and other clergy, parish and Catholic school leaders and staff, parishioners and Catholic school families. A 16 member Strategic Planning Task Force comprised of clergy, religious, and lay members was charged with gathering and analyzing this input as well as demographic and other data and formulating recommendations to the Archbishop.

The Strategic Plan calls for 21 parishes to be merged into 14 receiving parishes. The net effect of the changes, after implementation of all the announced mergers, is a total of 192 remaining parishes compared to the current number of 213 parishes. Decisions regarding buildings and other property of the merging parishes will be made by local leaders in consultation with the Archbishop and Presbyteral Council, a representative body of priests. There is an appeals process for parish mergers, which is described at http://planning.archspm.org/ as well as in the printed materials distributed at all parishes this weekend.

In addition, 33 parishes will join together in new cluster configurations, in which one pastor leads two or more parishes. (25% of parishes within the Archdiocese already share a pastor.)

Finally, 25 parishes are identified for structured collaboration, meaning that in the coming year they will have focused discussions about how to improve collaboration on programming and staffing.

Catholic schools within the Archdiocese were also a major area of study and evaluation by the task force.  This evaluation continues under the Strategic Plan with the assistance of a national consulting group. The consultants will evaluate the information gathered by the task force in light of best practices and solutions which have achieved success nationally.

Under the plan, all Catholic Schools will engage in ongoing evaluation of sustainability. Those schools determined to have questionable sustainability potential will be given a period of time to develop a realistic improvement plan.  Ultimately, pastors, principals and other local leaders will decide whether a given school is sustainable.  The Archdiocese will provide special support to certain schools because they are a presence of the Church in a key geographic area or because they serve the poor by providing the opportunity of a Catholic education. The Archdiocese’s historic commitment to disadvantaged children will continue.

Among the basic principles that Archbishop John C. Nienstedt established at the outset of the planning process was a stipulation that special concern be given in the planning process for “the poor, the marginalized, and the immigrant.” Nienstedt also directed that “full worship and sacramental ministry be available to every Catholic in all geographic areas of the Archdiocese. “

“This Strategic Plan has been developed with great care and study, with prayerful contemplation, and with enormous participation by and consultation with people from across the Archdiocese,” Nienstedt said.   “Its goal has been to foster a revitalized and sustainable local Church that is responsive to the pastoral needs of all our brothers and sisters in Christ now and in the future.”

Archbishop Nienstedt acknowledges that the changes may be challenging for some people to embrace. “Please know of my personal concern and prayers for members of this local Church who will eventually suffer the loss of a beloved parish home, or parish and for Catholic school employees who are worried about losing their jobs and others deeply impacted by these changes.” The Archbishop added, “I am hopeful that upon reflection everyone in the Archdiocese will see the long-range benefits that these changes will bring and I respectfully ask for your acceptance and understanding.”

Forces driving the strategic restructuring announced today include: changing demographics; the concentration of too many parish churches and school buildings in close proximity in certain neighborhoods; the age and condition of some buildings; the number of clergy available to meet existing and future parish pastoral needs. The shrinking of the school age population is also a challenge for Catholic schools; one public schools also face. Similar factors to those facing the Archdiocese have led many other dioceses as well as public institutions to restructure in recent years.

Pastors, lay leaders, and parishioners at affected parishes will begin meeting this month to find out more about how the changes under the plan will affect them.  However, no structural changes will be implemented until early next year. Changes will roll out over the following months and years. The changes will not all happen at the same time.  Archdiocesan staff will assist parishes during this transition period.

The Archdiocese’s Offices of Schools staff will provide direction and assistance to individual schools undergoing sustainability review.  All schools will continue to operate through the current school year.

Contact:

Dennis McGrath

Archdiocesan Director of Communications

Office 651-291-4412

Mobile 612-867-9968

Plan Announcement Press Release, October 16, 2010