Archdiocese of Chicago


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Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, OP, is a former superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Monday, June 10, 2013

To Teach Who Christ Is

Last Wednesday, Cardinal George announced a major fund-raising effort for Catholic education and faith formation in the Archdiocese of Chicago – the $350 million To Teach Who Christ Is Campaign. The Campaign has been structured to create significant financial support to Archdiocesan Catholic schools, religious education for children and teens, adult faith formation and capital needs for parishes and schools.

Below are the remarks shared by Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, Catholic School Superintendent, and Jim Perry, the Campaign's co-chair, and member of the Archdiocesan School Board at the news conference.

"These students behind us represent almost 90,000 children who are educated in Cook and Lake Counties. But we know that Catholic education is 'womb-to-tomb.' It's the whole gamut of the way we teach who Christ is. And so it's important to recognize the 90,000 in our Catholic schools, while also recognizing the 90,000 children in our religious education programs.

A gentleman who we regretfully, deeply miss and bury this morning, Fr. Andrew Greeley, said that the Catholic schools are still the greatest hope for our nation and for our world. These young people behind me are from all nations in the world, representing all types of backgrounds and life. And so while we will always focus on 'womb-to-tomb,' the bulk of this campaign does focus on Catholic schools. And we can prove it through our test scores and through our Explore scores, and we've dug down into the academics to ensure that we're going to have 21st Century Learning.

But our key piece is access. We need for young people to be able to share in what Fr. Greeley called, 'a sign of hope.'

We know we can produce citizens that are hopeful, citizens of the world and of the Church. If we do that in a sense of justice, we provide as Catholics, the best education in the world. And, that's exactly what we intend to do, with my deepest thanks to this community who are supporting this campaign, to the principals, pastors and teachers who will bring Christ to life in our young people."

"So this is what you call pressure! All these beautiful children staring at my back as the leader of this campaign to ensure the future of the Catholic church. Boy that's not easy!

But, we're off to a great start as Cardinal George has mentioned, having raised $82.5 million against our $100 million goal for the major gift phase.

We learned a lot these last 4-5 years. The school system is under a lot of stress. The Archdiocese of Chicago supports the school system to the tune of about $25 million a year, and those are dollars that flow from the Archdiocese to the needier parishes and schools in our system, and that amount of money is just not sustainable. With more work around the Archdiocese's finances and the school's plan, we made a determination that we needed to do something significant, something grand.

As Cardinal George mentioned, this is the biggest campaign in the history of the North American Catholic Church, and for fantastic reason. We have tremendous evidence that this school system is worth saving by so many dimensions. Not only is it the future of our Catholic community, it's also the largest alternative to the public school system.

If you believe in school choice, if you believe in alternatives for families, then you must get behind this campaign. The results and evidence for how we compete against the public schools is overwhelmingly in favor of the Catholic school system.

I think we learned something else, too. Where we can bring to bear great local principal leadership combined with attention to strong academics, marketing and enrollment support, and scholarship dollars, we can make real change happen. We can turnaround schools. We can make schools that were once sub-optimal when it comes to enrollment or losing money when it comes to operating expenses, suddenly become sustainable and viable places for children. So we want to apply these models and learnings more broadly.

In order to do that, we need your help to raise this $250 million at the parish level and the $100 million (We're almost there!) on the major gift front to sustain this school system for the long-term.

So, I'm excited to be a part of it. It's been a lot of work and there are some great people around the table with me to help make this happen, and I thank you for being here today with us!"

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