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Insights: Special Education Issue

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January 29, 2016

The Mission of Catholic Schools in Church and Society

Coinciding with Catholic Schools’ Week, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops has issued a comprehensive document entirely focused on Catholic schools.  Entitled “Our Catholic Schools in California: A Stellar Past, A Robust Future,” the document recognizes the tremendous benefit that Catholic schools have had and will continue to have on society as a whole.  

Bishop Edward Clark, auxiliary from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and chair of the Conference’s Committee on Education, has a strong, affirmative and hopeful vision: 

 “Catholic schools are a valuable resource to the state and have a strong future in California” he points out.

Bishop Clark explains that the document is a result of discussions that the Bishops have had for the past few years about “how to build up Catholic schools even when it has been increasingly difficult to maintain them.”  Faced with this challenge, the “California Bishops issued this document to not only reaffirm their commitment to keeping Catholic schools open but to also use the document as a springboard for what bishops and priests can do in their own dioceses to promote and sustain Catholic schools.” 

The statement is divided into three sections, one of which is specifically addressed to the clergy and lay faithful, another to civic and state leaders and the last section to development of strategies for schools.   As a whole, the document provides a broad overview of the vital role Catholic schools play in forming students in the faith, in preparing students to be leaders in society and in helping underprivileged students achieve greater success than they would by attending public schools.  

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Catholic Schools Week
Jan. 31- Feb. 6
Read statement

Innovative Catholic Schools around California Working for All Students

The Tenderloin--San Francisco’s most brutal square mile. In the Tenderloin many seem to live hopelessly in their personal hell.  Streets and alleys are crowded with drug addicts, homeless parolees, other lost souls.

But the Tenderloin also is home to hundreds of children, living there because their working poor parents cannot afford housing anywhere else.

Yet the Tenderloin has no elementary school within walking distance -- except for De Marillac Academy.

Inside De Marillac’s plain walls the environment is stunningly different from the grim streets outside.

It is a loving, extraordinarily hopeful environment where 120 Tenderloin children “receive the gift and beauty of a Catholic education,” explains President Mike Daniels, a veteran Catholic educator.

De Marrillac provides a life-changing, accessible Catholic educational experience for the underserved children in fourth through eighth grade, almost all Latino. Few have parents who completed high school.

Is it successful?

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A History of Education for All

From their very beginning, Catholic schools have focused on teaching poor and ethnic minority groups. Because of this, Catholic schools hold a rich tradition of educating students from all social and economic backgrounds.

The oldest Catholic school in the United States is Ursuline Academy in New Orleans, which was founded in 1727. The school offered the first classes for female African-American slaves, free women of color and Native Americans. St. Ursuline Academy continues to operate today, maintaining its dedication to the moral, spiritual and intellectual growth of all its students.

Often credited for forming the cradle of Catholic education in the United States, some refer to Elizabeth Ann Seton as a patron of Catholic schools.  More than 200 years ago, Mother Seton and her Sisters of Charity founded St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Maryland.

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Los Angeles Chaplain Questions New Death Penalty Protocols

The hearing held by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) last Friday, was the opportunity for the public to voice their concerns over the new death penalty protocols put forth by the CDCR.

The main areas of concern at the public hearing were how the drugs would be acquired, role of chaplains/spiritual advisors, projected costs of executions, counseling for staff and missing documentation on the research compiled by CDCR.

Speaking on behalf of the California Catholic Bishops was Father George Horan. He is the former co-director of Restorative Justice for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and now is the Founder and Chair of Healing Hearts, Restoring Hope. Fr. Horan is currently a volunteer chaplain at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.

He decried the fact that the spiritual advisers who attended to condemned inmates must leave three hours before an execution is carried out and noted that in accordance with the Catholic faith and canon law, confessions cannot be conducted by phone.

He stressed that the new protocols should offer more counseling to staff everyone who witnesses an execution. Fr. Horan said that he could not imagine what these officers go through watching these inmates die and that when witnesses are brought in to watch executions, new victims are created. He recounted the story of one officer so hardened by his work on Death Row, that he was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“To me, it just seems insane that we invite people to witness executions,” Horan said. “Gang members don’t do that.”

You can still voice your opposition to these protocols. The deadline for public comment was extended until Feb. 22. 

To read the new protocols, click here

Be Mediators of Mercy

“Also we, in this year of mercy, we can be mediators of mercy with the works of mercy - to grow close, to give relief, to create unity.  It's possible to do many good things.” – Pope Francis


January 29, 2016
Vol. 9, No. 4

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