As we begin the new school year, I wish to share the text of my recorded video message to our families, staff and communities involved in Catholic schools around the Archdiocese. The video itself is embedded here as well at the end of the text. Enjoy!
Greetings to all of you – My name is Christopher Mominey and I serve you as the Secretary for Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As we embark on a new school year together I’m sending my warm greetings and prayerful best wishes to everyone who is a part of our Catholic Schools family. As I enter my 4th year in this role, I continue to be humbled and immensely proud to work alongside all of you in the birthplace of Catholic schools.
Nearly a year ago, our Archdiocese was blessed with a visit by Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Families, which provided many inspirational moments for all of us. It was a privilege to witness our educators, students, and school families representing our local Church on the global stage throughout those historic days.
During his homily at the Cathedral Basilica, Francis posed a simple yet, powerful question that bears revisiting as we prepare to welcome almost 60,000 elementary, secondary, and special education students back-to-school this month. “What about you?” This question from the Holy Father echoed one posed to our own beloved Saint Katherine Drexel by Pope Leo XIII.
Pope Francis said, “Those words were addressed to a young person, a young woman with high ideals, and they changed her life. They made her think of the immense work that had to be done, and to realize that she was being called to do her part.” The Holy Father went on to ask, “How many young people in our parishes and schools have the same high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church! I ask you: do we challenge them? Do we make space for them and help them to do their part?”
Our schools in the five-county region are answering that call with a renewed vigor each day. Our administrators, educators, coaches, and volunteers strive each day to equip saints for this world and the next. They seek to enable our young people to embrace their God-given gifts and excel as positive contributors to the world around them. And I wish to thank all of you, especially our dedicated teachers and administrators, for your great work.
I want to share a few things that have been happening in preparation for the coming year.
At the elementary school level, we recently hosted a conference for over 275 early childhood educators. That level of attendance is a clear signal that our youngest students are being guided through their academic and spiritual growth by teachers and staff who are dedicated to continued refinement of their skills with cutting edge best practices. Plans at the elementary level for the coming year also include enhanced efforts to implement more robust local boards who can assist our pastors in the leadership of their schools.
We will also be hosting Regional Town Hall Meetings throughout the five counties. These meetings will give elementary parents, faculty, and board members the opportunity to share open dialogue with us on Catholic education and issues impacting their local school communities.
In our secondary schools, the “Maguire Fellows Program” is currently training leaders through its school management and leadership degree program at Saint Joe’s University. We have also allocated an additional $1 million toward capital improvements in our high schools, above and beyond the $3 million we invest every summer. Finally, and most importantly, we have a laser focus on the academic quality of our high schools; we know this is necessary for us to stay competitive and prepare our secondary students for their future in colleges, universities, and beyond.
Our four Schools of Special Education continue to be a beacon of hope and a true testament of our mission. Administrators and staff work tirelessly day in and day out to provide quality care and education to these precious students who are truly a gift from God. We are blessed to have these students in our midst and we continue to explore new ways of serving them and helping them to reach their full potential.
During this year of Mercy and in response to the Pope’s powerful question, “What about you?,” my staff and I will join with schools across the Archdiocese to mark the 1 year anniversary of the Holy Father’s visit with a “Mercy Week.” Incorporating the seven Corporal Works of Mercy students, faculty and staff will serve and give back to their communities in the spirit of Christ throughout the last week of September.
And so, In answer to the Holy Father’s question, “What about you?”
We answer his call with a simple statement and it is our core purpose as an organization: Holy Father, we equip saints for life in this world and the next!
My friends, let’s keep that purpose in mind in all that we do this year!
I wish you peace and all good things!