Bishop Blase Cupich has made Catholic education one of his highest priorities since coming to the Diocese of Spokane in September of 2010. First, he invited every Catholic school student to his installation Mass in what must have been the largest gathering of Catholic schools in diocesan history. Second, he takes every opportunity he can to write and speak about the value of a Catholic education.
Now, through a 501(c)(3) corporation he calls The Nazareth Guild, Bishop Cupich is taking a proactive role in shaping and safeguarding Catholic education in the Diocese of Spokane:
This past month a major archdiocese announced the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Committee to close 48 of its Catholic schools. While the results of the committee’s study were based on solid research and study, the announcement nonetheless sent shock waves through parishes, schools and families. While students, teachers and parents complained that they did not see this coming, committee members noted that the problems leading to the closures were longstanding and systemic. “Ten years ago, one member stated, ‘ if we had looked around the corner, we might have been able to do something to save them, but now it is too late. We have hit the point of no return.”
Dioceses around the country are facing similar challenges as parishes have shrunk with changing demographics, as dioceses have suffered financial setbacks and rising education costs have put the choice of a Catholic school out of reach for many families.
The Catholic schools in Eastern Washington are not immune to these trends, but happily the situation has not developed to ”the point of no return.“ We are blessed by many supportive parishioners, pastors and parents. There is a strong legacy in the diocese predisposed to Catholic schools. That is why I have decided to gather a group of leaders together to help strengthen and stabilize the viability of our Catholic schools. To that end we have formed The Nazareth Guild, a separate 501(c)(3) corporation, which will have a multi-pronged purpose aimed at keeping our schools financially healthy, academically excellent and accessible and safe centers of learning. One of the initial goals is to build an endowment to ensure that our exceptional educational programs will be available to students in all income groups, by providing tuition assistance for students who may otherwise be unable to afford this educational opportunity.
Taking its name for the town where the child Jesus was educated, the Nazareth Guild, will promote a professional, strategic and high quality development plan for our schools.
It’s this kind of hope, vision, and foresight that will strengthen Catholic schools for the future.