The 2,200 Catholic school teachers, administrators, and staff members who have accepted the call to serve in the 101 elementary schools and 14 high schools of the Archdiocese of p.6St_-Joan-Antida---Girls-in-Engineering-fair-2St. Joan Antida High School sophomores Erika Johnson, left to right, Sammy Reich and Sara Zaineb display their laser beam demo with Jello during a Girls in Engineering Fair at St. Joan Antida High School, Milwaukee on May 17, 2011. (Catholic Herald file photo by Juan C. Medina)Milwaukee today are sustaining the mission of more than a century of Catholic education in the United States and within the archdiocese.

In the past, thousands of religious sisters, brothers and priests sought to build the Catholic Church in our country on the solid foundation of Catholic schools. Today, the responsibility for strengthening and sustaining the teaching mission of the church has been passed on to other capable hands and generous hearts – mostly laity – who believe in that mission and dedicate themselves to its fulfillment. Their effectiveness requires resources that parishes alone cannot provide.

The future of accessible, affordable and viable Catholic education is highly dependent on the Catholic Stewardship Appeal. Funds from the appeal enable the staff of the Office for Schools to serve schools in 10 counties that range in size from 50 students to 1,500 in urban, suburban and rural areas. Our office team provides assistance and guidance to schools regarding curriculum development and learning support, leadership formation, school board training, policy development and promulgation, coordination of consolidations and mergers, accreditation and a constant emphasis on school improvement.

A highlight of our K-12 Catholic school personnel was the design and inauguration of a new religious education certification program, “Sustaining the Mission,” developed and sponsored by the St. Clare Center of Cardinal Stritch University. Catholic educators now have the opportunity to increase their religious knowledge through systematic, cohesive and high quality instruction in the faith. Appeal funds make possible the administration and development of this substantive and longCSA_EaselFor information on these ministries, contact Rob Bohlmann. To contribute to the CSA online, visit Questions about the CSA can be directed to Bohlmann, (414) 769-3320 or overdue program.

Similarly, three recently launched school consolidations (All Saints Catholic School, Kenosha; Our Lady of Grace Academy, Racine, and Wauwatosa Catholic School, Wauwatosa) have benefited from on-site leadership of our associate superintendents whose expertise has been invaluable and whose service is appeal-funded. 

According to Kenosha schools transition team member Margie Mandli, “The schools office was critical to the consolidation. Their thoughtful leadership regarding new models of Catholic education helped forge the way for All Saints Catholic School of Kenosha. The individuals assigned to our effort held a perspective grounded in our Catholic values, which invigorated the effort as whole.”

The Office for Schools pledges to continue efforts to strengthen schools that are thriving, and urge all parish and school communities to proactively consider and plan for new models of schools in order to ensure quality Catholic education for the present and the long term. We’re able to provide vision, leadership and outreach because of the appeal.

For more than 150 years, Catholic schools of the archdiocese have advanced the teaching mission of the church in southeastern Wisconsin. Today, although our schools are fewer in number, they are no less focused on the faithful teaching of Catholicism and academic excellence. The Catholic Stewardship Appeal provides essential resources for the success of their undaunted efforts.

(Cepelka is superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.)