Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a new book, "Promising Practices," 20 bishops and 20 Catholic college and university presidents described their own positive experiences of collaboration between local bishops and Catholic institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Several college presidents cited the role their institutions play in offering educational programs such as ministry formation to enhance local church life. Several bishops stressed the importance of ongoing dialogue and involvement of the bishop in campus events to build a climate of trust, mutual understanding and shared vision.
The book, subtitled "Collaboration Among Catholic Bishops and University Presidents," was a project of the bishops and presidents subcommittee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Education. It was edited by Michael Galligan-Stierle, USCCB assistant secretary for higher education and campus ministry, and published by Sacred Heart University Press in Fairfield, Conn.
Bishop Bernard J. Harrington of Winona, Minn., who chaired the education committee until last November, said in an introductory note that the short essays -- most of them just one page -- "provide one with concrete ways to strengthen Catholic identity and enrich the relationship between a diocese and Catholic higher educational institutions."
St. Joseph Sister Carol Jean Vale, president of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and immediate past board chairwoman of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, which also worked on the project, said collaboration between Catholic higher education and the U.S. bishops "holds immense importance for the future of the church in the United States."
She said other Catholic colleges and universities across the country could imitate many of the examples the presidents and bishops gave of collaborative initiatives through which the educational institutions put their resources to use for the benefit of the church locally or nationally.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said that "currently there are thousands of adults in formation at certificate and graduate levels, most preparing for leadership roles in educational, parochial and diocesan ministries" through programs offered by the Catholic colleges and universities in Los Angeles.
He said the institutions and the archdiocese worked together on curriculums for leadership development "in such areas as Hispanic ministry, pastoral studies, theological studies, youth and young adult ministry and Bible institutes."
Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss of Omaha, Neb., cited the work of Jesuit-run Creighton University, in collaboration with the archdiocese, in developing three major national studies on marriage and family life, as well as the university's contributions to the work of priestly, diaconate and lay ministry formation in the archdiocese.
Mary Pat Seurkamp, president of the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, focused on one innovative program that the college and the Baltimore Archdiocese developed in recent years: Operation TEACH (Teachers Enlisted to Advance Catholic Heritage), which offers scholarships for a master's degree in teaching to college graduates who commit to two years of teaching in area Catholic schools while living in small Christian communities.
Jesuit Father Robert A. Wild of Marquette University in Milwaukee cited the university's Summer Institute in Christian Doctrine, which gives teachers in Milwaukee archdiocesan Catholic schools professional training in church doctrine and catechetics. He also cited the collaboration with the archdiocesan Social Concerns Office to bring the university's resources and leadership to bear on social justice issues in the city, including the Urban Faith Roundtable that the university spearheaded for center-city religious leaders of many faiths and the academic resources it provides for the round table's urban ministry formation program.
"Ex Corde Ecclesiae," Pope John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, sparked extensive reflection on the meaning of Catholic identity within Catholic colleges and universities over the past 15 years and many new conversations between the leaders of those institutions and their local bishops.
Without those conversations, "Promising Practices" "could not have been written," Sister Vale said.
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Editors: "Promising Practices," which costs $10 plus $4.50 shipping and handling, can be ordered through Sacred Heart University Press, 5151 Park Ave., Fairfield, CT 06825. More information on the book and bulk rates are available by phone at: (203) 396-8097, or by e-mail to: email@example.com .
12/30/2005 2:03 PM ET
Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops