Detroit Prelate Issues Plan for Diocese Schools

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The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Detroit last week released a 'Mission statement" for Catholic education that calls for a new archdiocesan school board, a "teacher corps," and the possible closing of some schools.

Archbishop Adam J. Maida, who arrived in Detroit just over a year ago, has already launched a marketing campaign for Catholic schools and provided the inspiration for the opening of three interfaith private schools in inner-city Detroit that have drawn nationwide attention. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1991.)

Now, the archbishop is urging the 1.5 million Roman Catholics in the Detroit area to discuss the future of Catholic education there--not just Catholic schools, but also religious-education efforts, youth ministries, and adult education.

"We are on the threshold of a resurgence of interest in Catholic schools for our Catholic youth," Archbishop Maida says in the statement, which was to be released to church members this past weekend. "I am declaring that October 1991 through June 1993 will be a two-year focus for the Church of Detroit to reflect on the mission and future of Catholic education."

The archdiocese includes 184 Catholic schools, serving a total enrollment of about 57,500 students. Enrollment 10 years ago was about 80,000 students, but Detroit remains in the top 10 largest Catholic school systems nationwide.

The archbishop's plan calls for a new education board for the archdiocese, to be appointed by the spring of 1992. The board will consider such new fund-raising possibilities as an endowment or special collections.

The Catholic education department will consider a teacher corps to recruit recent college graduates and retired teachers to spend at least a year working in Catholic schools in return for a stipend and housing.

But much of Archbishop Maida's statement focuses on stimulating discussions among Catholics in their parishes and "vicariates," which are regional clusters of parishes.

The plan says that, in areas where Catholic schools face "dropping enrollments and declining financial resources," closing or consolidating them should be considered. Parishes without schools will be asked to help finance schools within their cluster.

Vol. 11, Issue 05, Page 9

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