Tag: steven virgadamo (page 1 of 3)

The Catholic Church in the US

Some say the Catholic Church is in decline and yet others say it is a Church in hospice. It is true the U.S. Church has experienced about a 3% decline in the last ten years confirmed by two massive PEW studies … and a decline in religious vocations, but don’t be too quick to rush to judgement without carefully considering the data. Most of the Church closures are old inner-city parishes where the demographics are changing. Many of these inner city parishes were established in close proximity in the late 1800’s as each was founded to minister to a particular immigrant population – Irish – Italian – Polish etc. Today, 49% of Catholic adults have a graduate college degree, make an above average income and very few experience protracted periods of unemployment. And, most do not live in the inner cities.

Catholics in the suburban parishes are doing just fine … and there has been no aggregate decline in the number of baptized Catholics who routinely attend Mass in the last 50 years. All these demographics correlate neatly with Catholic fertility rates … the aggregate baptized Catholic population fluctuates over decades between 23% to 27% of the U.S. population.

Catholic schools continue to maintain a presence in the inner cities to serve the urban poor and often the new immigrant population because they are Catholic and education is a path to breaking a cycle of poverty.

Spring and Getting Your Students Outside

If you are a teacher feeling the strain of third quarter and searching for the elusive fourth quarter of your school year to arrive, there is hope. Although you have been trapped inside with your students, the spring weather gives you opportunity to get your students outside, either during class projects or for homework. Here are ten outdoor assignments, categorized by subject matter, that both teachers and students can enjoy:


English Language Arts


  1. Write haiku poems which are usually about elements of nature. A haiku is a succinct style of poetry that should have only three lines and include exactly five, seven and then five syllables per line.
  2. Try poetry written in the imagist style to capture specific, simple pieces of nature. This assignment works especially well when studying American Literature because of the origins and history of imagism.
  3. Practice using descriptive language and literary devices to describe the outdoor setting. Teachers could require students to include their observations from all five senses and to use a set number of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, alliteration and symbolism.




  1. Search for unique rocks, and then categorize them as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic. Teachers could encourage a chart or table be designed and presented.
  2. Teach students how to safely catch and preserve or to catch and release insects; then practice classifying each insect based on its taxonomy.
  3. Ask for observations in a journal or report that describe the habitat of squirrels, birds or other animals in the area. This assignment could also include students classifying the animals or studying the entire ecosystem.




  1. For preschool classes, help students collect a designated number of rocks and leaves with which to practice counting.
  2. For elementary classes, ask students to gather a certain number of items, then practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the assortments during whole-group instruction. You could also demonstrate using fractions with their outdoor collections.


Social Studies


  1. Assign students a diorama showing their grasp of a historical event, and have them make a list of supplies they need; then go outside to gather a portion of their supplies.
  2. Have older students observe others at a park and report back on social structure, group behavior, gender roles and social norms. Adapt this exercise as needed for various sociology and psychology topics.


Indeed, springtime provides a unique season for students to explore and learn hands-on. Perhaps you are a teacher trying to engage students who learn best in a kinesthetic or tactile way; here’s your chance to add to your typical lessons and interest students even more. Encourage your students’ development by trying these creative and fun academic exercises.


Steve Virgadamo Selected to Launch the Entrepreneurial Leadership Series at New York’s Fordham University

This is a press release, and can be found at  PR.com

New York, NY, October 14, 2016 –(PR.com)– Fordham University – the Jesuit University of New York – selected Steve Virgadamo to launch the 2016-2017 Entrepreneurial Leadership Series. The invitation only Leadership Series sponsored by Fordham University will focus on Leading through Crisis. Dr. Gerald Cattaro, Director of the Fordham Center for School leadership said: “It is always easy to find spirituality during times of joy, but leaders are called to seek grace and strength during times of crisis and sorrow as well.”

Steven Virgadamo a long time advocate of school choice is an expert in managing and leading schools, colleges and universities through dynamic planning processes. On November 4, 2016, Virgadamo will be at the Fordham Lincoln Center Campus to speak with hundreds of Board Members as well as the Chief Executive Officers and the Chief Operation Officers representing hundreds of schools from throughout the United States. Virgadamo said his talk entitled Planning to Avert Crisis is designed to not only provide practical tools but to inspire hope and feed the spirit of passionate leaders committed to educational reform.

Mr. Virgadamo will bring insight to the Fordham Entrepreneurial Series as he was one of the VIP delegates from the United States invited by the Vatican Congregation to participate in the World Congress on Catholic Education in 2015. For more than 30 years, has worked directly with thousands of Catholic schools both within the continental United States and abroad. In 2012, the Alliance for Catholic Education Program at the University of Notre Dame tapped him to consult with Bishops and Catholic School Superintendents throughout the United States to initiate overall school improvement plans. In 2014, he was invited to return to his New York City roots where he is currently contributing to the architectural re-engineering of the Catholic School System in the Archdiocese of New York.

Three New Principals Glad to Be Coming ‘Home’

This post is from Catholic New York, make sure to check them out for more excellent work like this!

Anna Ramirez-Adam is returning home, Kate McHugh is staying home and Lawrence Cooke feels at home after a 30-year detour.

Ms. Ramirez-Adam, Ms. McHugh and Cooke met with CNY as three of the 25 new principals at schools in the archdiocese for the 2016-17 school year.

Ms. Ramirez-Adam and Ms. McHugh will be principals in Manhattan at St. Elizabeth’s School and The Epiphany School, respectively. Cooke will be in the Bronx at Immaculate Conception.

“They all have the academic credentials to do well,’’ said Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership. “We looked for highly credentialed individuals who not only have educational experiences but life experiences and have demonstrated leadership potential. They not only see themselves as educational leaders but as ministers of the Church.”

Ms. Ramirez-Adam is returning to the school and parish where she took religious education classes and made her first Holy Communion as well as began her teaching career. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the City College of New York and holds a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Ms. Ramirez-Adam taught at St. Elizabeth’s for seven years and at SS. Philip and James School in the Bronx for seven years before serving as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Florida for 27 years. She was principal at St. Joseph’s School in Palm Bay for 10 years and St. Catherine’s School in Sebring for five years.

“It’s very exciting for me to go back and continue to strengthen the education at St. Elizabeth, help these children grow into life-long learners and realize religion is not just a subject but is our faith,’’ Ms. Ramirez-Adam said.

Ms. McHugh, who has a bachelor’s in chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross, earned a master’s in chemistry and general science education from New York University and a master’s in education with a major in administration and supervision, Catholic leadership program, from Fordham University.

She started as a science teacher at The Epiphany School in 2001 before serving as dean of students, 2004-2007; guidance teacher, 2005-2008; and vice principal, 2007-2016.

“I went to Epiphany, and my husband went to Epiphany. We were in the same class,’’ Ms. McHugh said. “Our siblings all went there. Starting in September, both of our children will be attending Epiphany. It’s always been a part of our lives, and it’s really exciting to start another chapter of that relationship with the school.

Ms. McHugh is a founder of Epiphany’s Stars for Service community service program and alumni committee.

“One of the biggest pieces of school’s success is the family feeling,’’ she said. “I think everyone comes together to worship, to study and to socialize. It’s really a second home for so many people. For that, the children stay and the teachers stay.”

Cooke was in sales management, marketing, consulting and business management before becoming a teacher in 2007 at St. Joseph’s High School, a girls’ school in Brooklyn. He volunteered at St. Joan of Arc parish in Queens as a catechist, men’s prayer group facilitator and lector.

“I always wanted to be in education. I just took a 30-year detour in business,” Cooke said. “I’ve done volunteer work with my church and youth organization related to the Catholic church over the last 20 years.’’

Cooke believes his background in business, teaching and volunteering at his parish has prepared him for his new position.

“Now I’m a lead teacher and a lead spiritual adviser,” he said. “I’m very excited about it. This is not a job. This is a vocation and one I had worked very hard in my life to do. This is where I want to be and my placement at Immaculate Conception is a privilege and a calling. It’s where God has placed me.’’

14 Tips To Help Teachers Maintain The Beauty And Luster of  a Vocation as a Catholic School Teacher.

For the next month teachers and school leaders will be preparing to welcome young scholars and saints in formation at Catholic Schools throughout the country. Forming Saints and Scholars is hard work, I hope and pray that our Catholic school leaders and teachers will be rewarded greatly for the days and nights they spend toiling in the ministry I like to call Our Father’s Business.


Last week I had the opportunity to welcome new teachers to the to their ministry in a Catholic school  – many of them will be first time teachers. I spoke to them about the Trinitarian aspects of a Catholic School and how successful Catholic schools are about relationships – relationships – relationships.  By the time the day was done, the cohort of new teachers adopted a  mantra of “Not Under my Watch.” Imagine several hundred new Catholic school teachers being asked:


  • Will it be said that in your classroom children were denied an opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ?


  • Will it be said that the test scores of your children declined during the 2015-2016 school year?


  • Will students in your classroom withdraw from school because parents are dissatisfied with your willingness to partner with them on behalf of their child’s education?


And all responding with an unequivocal – “Not Under My Watch.”


Teaching is a noble profession! Nobility includes in its meaning the very notion of beautiful. Therefore, noble work is beautiful work. But what is beautiful can be sullied. While working at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program I was often presented with opportunities to talk to new Catholic school teachers. Below are some of the thoughts I would share with them in an attempt to help each new teacher maintain the beauty and luster of his/her own vocation as a Catholic school teacher. I share them here today so that Catholic school leaders across the country can use as appropriate and share with new teachers.  Some of the thoughts might be good for veteran teachers to hear again as well.


  1. Stay close to the Lord. Throughout your career, you will experience crises of confidence, exasperation, frustration, unreasonable parents, troubled students, bad classes, poor liturgies. You will be misquoted, misrepresented and for some periods of time, mistrusted. But you will also get the unparalleled gift to see the world with wonder again, through the eyes of young people. You will be made a confidante by a young person seeking advice, feel the joy of a weak student who does well on an assignment, cheer for your students in athletic contests, beam with a near parents’ pride as your students graduate. To keep yourself rooted, to keep your ideas fresh, to be the kind of faithful person our young people need to see firsthand, stay close to the Lord, both in your daily prayer and in the reception of the sacraments. If you do, the Lord will bless you in your work and you will go to bed each night exhausted, but with a smile on your face. 
  2. Be yourself. If you’re young, you’ve probably never been called Mister Jones or Miss Smith, and that will take some getting used to.  But you can be yourself within this role. I have never agreed with the maxim “Don’t let them see you smile until Thanksgiving.”  The fact is, students respond better to authenticity. It’s OK to laugh at something the students say which is amusing—in fact, it’s quite disarming to them. It’s OK to let the students see you having fun. 
  3. Admit your mistakes and learn from them. Zero in on your strengths, not your weaknesses. (Remember — nobody’s perfect!) Principals also suffer from human frailty and need time to learn. School leaders need to be supported not weakened by behavior which is destructive to the Catholic School community.
  4. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the students. So learn how to spell the word “concupiscence”. Concupiscence is a tendency to put yourself first. Only divine grace enables us to rise above it. But unless you declare war on it, you are bound to succumb to the illusion that teaching is all about you.
  5. Be professional. Model desired attitudes and behavior. Make sure you dress in professional attire. Remember that you teach students first, and then you teach whatever academic discipline you learned. You are a role model for the children and partner with the parents in the formation of each child.  
  6. Empower your students and engage them in the teaching/learning process.  Listen — both to what the kids are saying and to what they’re not saying. Make sure  that assessments are frequent and fair, that work is graded in a timely fashion, and that classes are well prepared and taught from beginning to end  – every minute matters!
  7. Don’t “go it alone.” Get to know all the teachers in your school and make friends with the cooks, custodians, aides, and secretaries. We are all formators of children, just each with a different role to play. Volunteer to share projects and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask others to share their ideas with you. Understand that the learning process involves everyone — teachers, students, colleagues, and parents — and get everyone involved. Seek the advice of your colleagues, share your frustrations with them, and ask questions. Remember we are promised that whenever two or more are gathered in His name that he will be with us to enlighten and guide us.
  8. Dive in! Don’t be a person who clocks in at 7:30 and clocks out at 4 each day. Come to afterschool activities. Nothing connects you with your students faster than to be able to say “Nice hit,” or “great singing,” or “I was impressed with your artwork at the show.” You can’t be at everything; but make a point some days to just stop in at after school care to say hello.  You’ll see kids in a whole new light, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too.
  9. Consider your roll book a prayer book – Pray for your students and their families. Your most important work is to bring a piece of heaven into the classroom with you.
  10. Think before you speak; if you do, you won’t speak very often, for there is a great deal to think about in education. Have the courage to try something else if what you’re doing isn’t working.
  11. Thirty plus years from now, your students will not remember all that you taught them, but they will remember who you were and how you treated them You have a choice to become a minister of justice or an angel of peace. Be an angel of peace.
  12. All the knowledge we give our students is in vain if they receive it without knowing they are good and loved by God. Each day is an opportunity to channel the divine love. Don’t waste an opportunity to do so. Every minute counts!
  13. Keep a journal and take pictures. Some highly regarded Catholic school teachers share excerpts from their journal and images from the week with parents in a weekly email blast.
  14. Remember that a good day is not necessarily smooth, painless and hassle free.


Spotlight on Holy Angel University in the Philippines

I went into this school last month in an overview of Picking A Catholic College, but wanted to get you a more in-depth insight into the colleges mentioned:

Holy Angel University is an incredible Catholic University located in Angeles City in the Philippines. The history of Holy Angel University is one that is brimming with the dedication to the Catholic faith. It was the first Catholic university in the Philippines founded by laity. Located about two hours north of Manila in the historic district of Angeles City, the University is in a modern city that still has some of the Spanish colonial aspects of Catholicism.

Included in daily life at the University are public prayer, processions and presentations of the life of Christ. There are over 15,500 undergraduate students at this American-style institution. This is by far the largest Catholic University in this year’s edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. Almost 70 percent of this university’s faculty and an even larger portion of its students are practicing Catholics.

The university’s main language of instruction is English, which is also the official tongue of the Philippines. Americans will likely want to pick up some of the native languages, including Tagalog and Kapampangan. International students have the option of enrolling as full degree-seeking students or on a temporary study-abroad basis.

This University differs from American universities in a few ways. Students are required to stay out of hallways during class time, wear uniforms, behave in class, and take physical education classes. While the campus is modern, there is not much air conditioning, and fans and open windows are typically used instead.

Holy Angel University has a large variety of majors from hospitality and tourism to engineering. Every student is required to take four courses that teach knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith. Students are also required to help the local communities through charitable activities, to attend Mass together, and to lead the class in prayer.

The majority of students live in homes located off campus, but classes go as late as 9 pm, and a lot of students stay on campus for evening activities. The campus has two small dorms that accommodate predominantly international students. The university is also constructing a new residence on its upcoming satellite campus. The satellite campus, located in Porac, will be very welcoming to international students.

Holy Angel has a close relationship with the local diocese. At the start of each academic year, the Oath of Fidelity is administered to the president and administrators by the Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga. The archbishop emeritus holds the position of vice-chairman on the board of trustees.

According to university president Luis Calingo, the primary attraction for American students is the ability to to attend a faithfully Catholic university while being immersed in an Asian context. Holy Angel is in the process of establishing articulation agreements with American colleges, but it is important that students make sure their credits from Holy Angel will transfer.

The combined tuition and room response are significantly lower than those of most American universities, totaling at an equivalent of $2,200 US dollars. With a convenient cost, a wide variety of academic opportunities, and a dedication to the Catholic faith, Holy Angel University is a great place to send any Catholic student is eager to learn.


Secular Criteria for Colleges Can’t Tell the Whole Story

With a recent article published by Newsmax on the top 40 Traditional Catholic and Jesuit Colleges in America, some debate has been raised on the topic of secular college standards versus faith being the defining factor in choosing a school. Managing editor of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, Adam Wilson, argues that a college’s Catholic identity should be of paramount concern.


“Students must weigh all options, including a school’s selection of majors, its location, post-graduation job success rate, class size, and student-to-faculty ratio.” Says Newmax, but then it also goes on to say that legacy and influence are subjective criteria compared to statistics like student retention rates. While these factors are great to take into consideration, do they accurately portray the Catholic structure of the college and the ideals that it espouses?


A Newsmax rep spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to explain “that special consideration was given to “institutions that allow students to give back or care for others while growing spiritually,” but that they ultimately “wanted the list to feature exceptional institutions that ‘strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education.’” Only one of the universities in the Newsmax ratings is recommended by the Newman Society for its commitment to a faithful Catholic education. Georgetown University, on the Newsmax list as the number two top Catholic college has actually had a canon law petition filed against it due to the numerous Catholic identity abuses, demanding that the university either remove it’s Catholic affiliation or take significant steps to restore the Catholic identity it once held.


So where should you look to for a college that is based in spirituality but also hits the academic criteria desired for success of the students? Keeping in mind that it is not just a college of faith that is important, and if they adhere to what the Church envisions for Catholic universities, but also that the students will enroll in institutions that aim to strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education. The legwork here mainly falls to you. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has compiled a list of Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States that gives you a base to jump of from, and everyone looking into a Catholic institution should read the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae. It is important that the institutions and bishops in the United States are understanding and using the application of that document to bring their identity in line with the Church’s vision. The only way you can know if the needs of the college are aligned with the needs of your family and your faith is to ask the important questions yourself. Class size and student retention, while important factors to consider, simply are not representative of the ideals of a college or it’s ability to nourish a student’s faith. Campus ministry and residence life, as well as the faculty and percentage of Catholic students in attendance are all integral to the process.


As Pope Benedict XVI addressed to Catholic educators in 2008 where the Holy Father stated that “Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics.” Instead, Catholic identity “demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. In this way, our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society,” he continued. “They become places in which God’s active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ’s ‘being for others.’”


Forming Saints and Scholars


Steve Virgadamo

A School Leader in the 21st century is one of the most exciting and significant roles undertaken by any person in society. Principals are responsible and accountable for the development of children.

Catholic school principals answer to a higher authority in that they are executive level managers in “Our Father’s Business.”  Each Catholic School executive is accountable for the formation of the child and are called to focus on the following in considering the formation of each saintly scholar:

Intellectual Formation

  • Acquire critical thinking skills
  • Learn to communicate clearly, logically and creatively

 Human Character Formation

  • Grow in core values that enable positive leadership
  • Develop essential character strengths including discipline, responsibility, and a sense of personal dignity

Spiritual Formation

  • Strengthen a personal relationship with Christ
  • Learn the fundamentals of Catholic traditions and teachings
  • Discover a meaning in life that inspires the pursuit of excellence

Apostolic Formation

  • Develop a generosity through acts of self giving and sacrifice
  • Form a sense of social responsibility and learn to share talents as a member of a global team
  • Exercise leadership by serving as mentors and role models

By focusing on these important student outcomes, a successful Catholic School leader will provide a school with a culture of academic rigor and an environment in which each student can encounter and grow in a relationship with the Risen Christ!

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Eight things Catholic School Board Members Should Do

catholic-nycFor most Catholic schools, the school Board exists primarily to formulate policy and give strategic direction to the school (i.e., plan). The Board is charged with furthering the school’s mission and ensuring the school’s success. The Board’s core activity is planning, and the Board’s primary constituency is not today’s students but the students of the future.

The minimal functions of a Catholic school Board includes:

1. Developing a strategic plan

 2. Policy development

3. Hiring the chief administrator

 4. Approving an annual budget

5. Overseeing financial accountability including establishing just compensation and tuition pricing

6. Ensuring that in broad terms the school is fulfilling its mission

The Board members should NOT be involved in the day-to-day operations of the school. Such daily practical matters should be handled directly by the Chief Administrator of the school. The primary responsibility of the chief administrator is to:

  • Implement the policies established by the board.
  • Oversee the implementation of the curriculum and classroom management.
  • Evaluate, hire and fire staff within the financial constraints determined by the Board.

The critical distinction between the roles of the Board and the Chief Administrator is that the Board controls the big picture and gives direction to the Chief Administrator, who implements policy with considerable discretion. The Board is responsible for approving the annual budget, for developing a long-term strategic plan, and for the evaluation and the hiring and firing the Head of the school. The school Head handles the day-to-day operations of the school, typically without any Board intervention or input.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Reimagining Catholic Schools to Strengthen Mission and Evangelization


Pope Francis

“We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data—all treated as being of equal importance—and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values”

Pope Francis, excerpt from Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013

It is the religious character, identity and culture that distinguishes Catholic schools and allows them to be successful. In order to strengthen our mission and continue to evangelize, we need all Catholic schools to be exemplary. The challenges of our society mandate the need for true Catholic schools, not simply schools operated by Catholics.

In the past, religious sisters, brothers and priests staffed Catholic schools, establishing and sustaining their Catholic culture. As we continue to face many challenges, I believe the blueprint has been laid out, the foundation is in place and with proper leadership; success will be inevitable.

In the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, defining characteristics of Catholic schools have been mapped out as a concrete guide for continued growth and improvement. Focusing on the standards of: Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence and Operational Vitality, these standards truly define what we need in order to remain vital.

Vast changes have swept across the societal and educational landscape.  How we respond to these changes will affect the future of Catholic education. Using the standards and benchmarks as a template we can address our future with tools which will allow success to flourish. Attention to developing the whole child, fostering parish and school relationships, and supporting families are all integral components to accomplish a re-imagined mission and the job of evangelization.

As a leader, the need for a well-articulated execution of mission and evangelization will allow for enhanced confidence from our current constituents, allow opportunities to build community, welcome new families and complement to true mission of our Catholic schools.

The Bishops of the United States are deeply committed to Catholic schools and clearly understand our need to be more aggressive in supporting this important mission in the Church especially in our increasingly secular and materialistic society where the public education system has basically removed any mention of God or prayer from its schools and its classrooms. As President of the Bishop’s Conference, Cardinal Dolan asked that the Conference focus more attention on the situation of our Catholic schools and increase its efforts in articulating more clearly the importance of the work of education in the mission of the Church and make the agenda on Catholic schools as much a priority as the Bishops stance on pro-life and immigration.

One of the challenges that we face is the increasing financial burden of running a Catholic school. This is an issue that will require great resolve on the part of those involved in this ministry of Catholic education. The Catholic Community not only has the ability but also the means to ensure the existence of our Catholic schools far into the future. Today, the Archdiocese of New York today announced the launch of Inner-City Scholarship Fund’s $125 million “Kids Are Our Capital” endowment campaign led by a record-setting founding gift of $40 million from Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman.  The Schwarzmans’ gift is the single largest donation in the Archdiocese’s 207 year history.

However, if this level of philanthropy is to become more routine, it is incumbent that we as school leaders take a hard look at how our schools are run and operated. We need to re-educate the Catholic community as to the importance of these schools in the mission and work of the Church. We must do so without hesitation or timidity and without being nostalgic in terms of what was in the past, but rather address what is needed for their future success.

In its document entitled “The Catholic School” the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education in 1977 pointed out that the Church establishes schools because she considers them as a privileged means of promoting the formation of the whole person, since the school is a center in which a specific concept of the world, of man, and of history is developed and conveyed. (The Catholic School-Scared Congregation for Catholic Education 1977) This definition of the role of Catholic schools as the place where formation of the whole person takes place is something that we need to understand more fully and to express more effectively in marketing and promoting our schools.

At the same time we must see the schools within the context of the mission of the Church – the Church has a mission and therefore, we have schools. It should be understood clearly that the reason we establish, support and maintain Catholic schools is because we believe the truth about life, the truth about the origin, identity and destiny of every human person is rooted in our understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.

It is important that Catholic schools not be portrayed simply as competitors to the government run school system, nor should our efforts be seen as a lack of support for the public education system. The reality is that we need to support every effort to help all children achieve their God-given potential and to become esteemed members of the human family based on their human dignity as children made in the image and likeness of God. The public schools are not our competition and the product we strive to produce is more than simply a literate person who can achieve economic success. Our goal must be to prepare students not just for college, but heaven as well.

If we are to seek and expect unprecedented philanthropic support so that Catholic schools prosper then we must re-evaluate many of the structures and resources that helped in the past, discard what is no longer relevant in the current milieu and put in place the foundation stones that will carry us through to the future.

A crucial element of this is leadership. This is perhaps the most important challenge to the survival of the Catholic Schools. We need to develop, form and train individuals who can guide our schools into the future. The leaders must be totally committed to the mission of Catholic education. They must be faith-filled people who daily practice their faith and will be true role models for the staff and students they will encounter on a daily basis. They must have a passion for the work that needs to be done and a willingness to work to achieve the goals that are put forth. These individuals must embody and live the Catholic identity that we proclaim and be examples of individuals who, with God’s grace, have become true disciples of the Lord.

As a result of an early retirement option, the New York Archdiocese has 42 new school leaders this year – 42 transformational leaders. More than 200 applications from across the United States were received. Many candidates expressed a desire to be a part of the Catholic school leadership team who rewrites the script of Catholic schools from a declining system to one which is growing, flourishing and philanthropically endowed.

From 1920 to 2015 the number of Catholics in the United States increased by 28%. One would think this an asset for Catholic schools. Yet under the watch of the Catholic school leaders of the baby boomer generation,  the number of children enrolled in Catholic schools declined year after year. To paraphrase JFK’s inaugural address – Let it be known from this day forth to friend and foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Catholic school leaders. Born in the latter half of the last century, educated in a post Vatican II church, hardened by scandal and committed to reestablishing a Catholic school culture which provides opportunities for students to encounter the risen Christ while challenged in a rigorous academic environment and empowered to develop the gifts given to them by God.

About the Author – Steven Virgadamo

Steve Virgadamo provides thought leadership to Church leaders, Trustees and Board members. His expert counsel over many years has led to many Bishops, Chief Finance Officers, Superintendents, Pastors and Principals to consider him to be the expert in both Church and school management and the most premier consultant for Catholic schools, colleges and universities. He travels throughout the United States and internationally to mentor and teach school leaders, teachers, pastors, and more. His domestic and international reputation has led to Steven’s selection as a delegate for the World Congress on Catholic Education sponsored by the Congregation of Catholic Education.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo