Dear Friends in Christ,
I continue to be invigorated and inspired by visiting our wonderful Catholic schools. The enthusiasm of the students is energizing; the dedication of principals, teachers, religious sisters and brothers, our priests, and staff, praiseworthy; and the trust and commitment of our Catholic school parents, humbling. It is a tremendous privilege to partner with them in helping to form future leaders of the Church and our communities, and pass on our enduring Catholic faith. I truly believe that our strength as a Church has deep roots in Catholic schools. It is precisely those deep roots that have allowed our schools to adapt and grow in new directions over their rich 200 year history.
That history shored my confidence when I first arrived at the Archdiocese of New York in the spring of 2009, and it became clear we needed to find new ways to fund and sustain our Catholic schools for present and future generations of New Yorkers. It was an idea whose time had come. As you have heard me say many times over the past years, the Catholic school model of “one parish, one school” that had so successfully served us for so many years, was no longer viable and it became painfully obvious that a new model was needed. Now, after years of planning and hard work undertaken by our Superintendent, Dr. Timothy McNiff and his staff, and with the unfailing support from our pastors, principals, teachers and dedicated parishioners, an innovative model, regionalization, has become a reality.
With regionalization, every parish, even those without a school on the property, and those whose schools remain parish-based, has a voice and an investment in the Catholic schools in their communities. Now, everybody is doing their part, sharing responsibilities and working together to ensure a bright and vibrant future for our schools. Thankfully, with the laity’s enhanced role in governance, our irreplaceable pastors can devote more of their energy to the sacraments, liturgy and catechesis, vigorously assuring our schools maintain their robust Catholic identity.
2013 was a pivotal year for our Catholic schools, with hope-filled beginning after years of painful, but necessary, school closings. But even in our darkest hours, we remained a community of faith and passionately committed to Catholic education, evidenced by the fact that more than 60 percent of our families from closing schools made the decision to transition their children to another Catholic school.
With closures, please God, behind us and our new model of school governance in place, we are moving forward together with the belief that our future will be even brighter than our past. Just as important for our schools’ future as regionalization is our continued focus on improving our already sound academics, intensifying our Catholic identity, fostering the formation of our principals, and improving our marketing and student outreach. As you will see from this Annual Report, the Superintendent, his staff, and the regional boards are excited and committed to continue to do the work that needs to be done to keep our schools “the pearl of great price” in this world.
Thank you for all the great work you do for our schools!
Faithfully in Christ,
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York