This year, Bishop Walkowiak wrote parishioners of the diocese to announce an important change to the annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) over the next two years. The change involves providing annual funding to continue the successful Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative (BCSI) and implement the "Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith & Future" strategic plan.
For the past three years, funding for the Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative (BCSI) has come mostly from diocesan savings. The initiative was launched in the 2015-16 school year to provide support and increase resources at our 30 Catholic schools throughout the diocese. It was a three-year, three-part initiative in which we increased the amount of scholarship money given at the diocesan level, hired additional staff members to provide shared services to our schools, and planned for the future by creating a strategic plan, “Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future,” which was announced in August 2017.
There is evidence that the BCSI is working. Our Catholic schools have recorded three straight years of enrollment growth and approximately $2.4 million has been given out in scholarships from the diocese. This does not account for the support given by our parishes and schools at the local level. We need to continue providing the best quality education where young people are encouraged to grow in faith and grace, develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, and are welcomed and cherished for their unique gifts.
How much additional money will be required annually?
To continue the good work that has been accomplished by the Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative, the diocese must raise approximately $900,000 in additional funds annually to continue scholarship support and implement the “Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future” strategic plan.
How will we raise that amount each year?
Through consultation with all of the priests in the diocese through deanery meetings and the Presbyteral Council, it was decided that the most effective way of raising this money would be through our annual Catholic Services Appeal. The priests support the educational strategic plan and the need for its support.
Beginning with the coming fiscal year, all parishes will begin to contribute a minimum of 8.0% of their offertory toward the “Bridging Faith and Future” strategic plan implementation.
- Parishes without a school - If you belong to a parish without a school, your parish's CSA target will increase by 4.0% of your offertory this year, and 4.0% next year to bring your parish up to the 8.0% minimum. Any support given on behalf of student parishioners that allows them to attend a Catholic school through parish support or parish scholarships will be credited toward your parish's overall schools' goal.
- Parishes with a school - If you belong to a parish with a school, your parish’s CSA goal will not increase. That is because the level of funding your parish provides exceeds the 8.0% minimum. Currently, parishes with schools dedicate 20-40% of their offertory toward school operating expenses, which includes salaries, building operations and normal operating costs.
I thought the CSA already provided funding for Catholic schools?
The CSA provides funding for the Office of Catholic Schools, along with a certain amount of scholarship support each year. However, it does not currently provide funding for the newly articulated strategies of the “Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future” strategic plan.
Why is support of our Catholic schools important?
Our Catholic schools are a ministry of our diocese and all of its parishes. They are a ministry for everyone, not only for people who have attended a Catholic school or who have enrolled their child(ren) in a Catholic school. We all share in this common responsibility of educating children in the Catholic faith.
While the great majority of our Catholic youth do not attend Catholic elementary or secondary schools, we need more who do. Why? Because there are important ways in which Catholic schools are different from other schools. It is based on sound assumptions about the existence of God and the chief purpose of man and woman in life. It considers both soul and body. It is based on unchanging standards of right and wrong. It emphasizes sound values. It weaves religion into education as part of life. Catholic school students can live their faith every hour of the school day, 35 hours per week.
Our Church and our communities need men and women who have this kind of education. We have 30 Catholic schools in our diocese, with a new one set to open in the fall. We must keep them strong and excellent and be ready to increase their numbers. All of us share in this responsibility of ensuring the next generations of Catholics are given an opportunity to be cared for spiritually and well educated in the ways of faith.
Where can I direct questions?
For questions related to the:
- CSA campaign effort, contact Katie Olding, CSA administrator
firstname.lastname@example.org | 616-246-0586
- Calculation of parish assessments, contact Kevin Simon, comptroller, email@example.com | 616-475-1243
- Promotion of CSA in your parish, please ontact Annalise Laumeyer, communications director
firstname.lastname@example.org | 616-551-5629