Creating a Community of Disciples
“How can we create a ‘community of disciples’ to ignite the passion for and address the challenges of Catholic schools?”
This question was posed by Brother Raymond Fitz, SM, the longest-serving president in the University of Dayton's history and currently the Fr. Ferree Professor of Social Justice in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. Brother Fitz was the keynote speaker on June 24 at a St. Remy Initiative training day.
A critical issue for Catholic schools today is keeping Catholic identity at the forefront of their school cultures. Since 1990, almost 1,300 Catholic schools have closed their doors in the United States and an estimated 300,000 students have been impacted by these closures. The number of vowed religious serving Catholic schools has been dramatically reduced, and these schools are now primarily in the hands of lay leaders. We must find leaders capable of working together to chart a bright future for Catholic schools.
Eight participants representing the Lexington, KY, New Ulm, MN, Pittsburgh, PA, and Cincinnati, OH, dioceses participated in the day-long session at the University of Dayton in which members of the St. Remy Initiative in Dayton shared the St. Remy program and lessons they have learned from it. Guest educators shared lively dialogue of their experiences in their own dioceses, and we all learned that we had much in common and that we could all benefit by collaborating for the benefit of Catholic schools.
Training participants indicated an eagerness to continue the dialogue with St. Remy, Dayton, after they return to their own dioceses. Monthly follow-up conference calls are being held to support the educators who wish to establish St. Remy programs in their own dioceses. In fact, the possibility of a joint pilgrimage with educators from Dayton and Lexington is being discussed for next summer.
Brother Ray’s challenge to create a community of disciples is now being embraced by a growing number of educators. This is a first step in sharing the story of St. Remy and truly becoming a community of disciples.
Photos from St. Remy Initiative Training Day