MACS parents provide input on 'Catholic Identity'
Focus group recommendations expected by spring
CHARLOTTE — Nearly one year after an evangelization committee was formed to strengthen Catholic identity in the diocese's schools, it is almost finished gathering opinions from parents and teachers – the first step in putting together a plan for diocesan leaders to consider.
Father Roger K. Arnsparger, diocesan vicar of education, announced the creation of the evangelization committee – made up of parents, teachers and other stakeholders – about 10 months ago to find ways to enhance the nine Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools'' "Catholic identity." This came on the heels of the 2010 accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of the diocesan school system, which in part gauges Catholic identity in Church-run schools.
At the time, Father Arnsparger said the committee would "explore how our schools are implementing their mission to 'proclaim the Good News of the Gospel' and to identify opportunities to enhance the spiritual development of our students, parents, teachers, principals and administrators."
The committee then set about creating and distributing a survey for MACS families, conducted interviews with teachers and administrators and established focus group meetings at seven of nine schools to glean ideas and input on the subject of "Catholic identity," which is a key factor in the district's accreditation process.
"Most of the nine school teams have reported their findings, (and we) hope that the remaining teams wrap up by later January," said Jason Beckert, who chairs the evangelization committee. "We're pleased with the quality of ideas we have received so far."
The findings compiled by the committee will be sent to Father Arnsparger and the Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools Board for review sometime in March or April, with an implementation plan to be developed upon approval of the committee's recommendations.
"The committee wishes to thank all of the principals, teachers and parents who graciously shared their input and enthusiasm over the last six months," Beckert added. "We are especially grateful to Father Arnsparger for his leadership and guidance along the way."
Using "The Holy See's Teaching on Catholic Schools" by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, as a guide, the committee and Father Arnsparger said they want to clarify and establish what the Church asserts as the "five marks of Catholic schools." That means schools which are: inspired by a supernatural vision, founded on a Christian anthropology, animated by communion and community, imbued with a Catholic worldview throughout its curriculum, and sustained by Gospel witness.
Michael Guerra, former president of the National Catholic Educational Association, echoed this approach, stating: "The first and most important task for Catholic schools is to maintain and continually strengthen their Catholic identity."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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