It’s Catholic Schools Week! Start by reading Bishop George Murry’s interview in Crux. Bishop Murry is the Chair of NCEA’s Board of Directors and is the incoming chairman of the USCCB’s committee on education. A Jesuit, he has experience with schools and has a clear vision of confronting the realities and planning for the future. He is also the guest on the Catholic School Matters podcast tomorrow. Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes.

Speaking of the podcast, this week I’ll be presenting one podcast per day this week: tomorrow’s guest will be Bishop Murry; Tuesday’s guest will be Dr. Dan Guernsey of the Cardinal Newman Society, who will talk about Cardinal Newman’s new approach to Catholic schools; Wednesday’s guest will be Rebeca Bautista of the Archdiocese of Miami’s Virtual School, who will describe this innovative new venture; Thursday will be Fr. Brian O’Brien, the president of Tulsa’s Bishop Kelley HS, who will discuss how and why to promote vocations in your school; and Friday’s guest will be Doug Tooke from the Diocese of Helena sharing his thoughts on what youth ministry can teach us in Catholic education.

The second thing you should read this week is from Dr. Hosffman Ospino and Dr. Patty Weitzel-O’Neill in NCEA’s Momentum winter issue entitled “Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church.”

Finally, watch this video about Missoula Catholic Schools. It will get you fired up for Catholic schools!

In a future podcast, Dr. Ospino from Boston College shared the puzzling statistic that there are nearly 15 million school-age Catholic children—8 million of which are Hispanic. Yet only 2 million students are enrolled in Catholic schools—only 300 thousand of which are Hispanic. Yet Catholic schools continue to close and enrollments decline. If this situation doesn’t puzzle you, you’re not paying attention.

I’m not a masochist or a pessimist. However, it’s important to recognize that the following are the links to Catholic school closings and consolidations that I have come across and published this year:

1. Closures: Boston’s last all-girls high school closed in summer of 2016, Connecticut elementary school closes 2 weeks before opening, Kennedy HS in St. Louis to close at end of year, St. Elizabeth HS in Oakland to close, reopen at Cristo Rey HS, Erie Elementary school to close, Pittsfield (MA) high school, Baltimore to close 3 elementary schools, 2 elementary schools in St. Louis slated for closure, Leavenworth (KS) high school to close, 2 suburban Chicago elementary schools, East Dubuque HS, Chicago suburban all-girls HS, 5 Oakland elementary schools.

2. Regionalization plans (which usually result in closures) are scheduled for Pittsburgh, Fall River, Duluth, North St. Louis County, and Bridgeport.

3. Mergers (which mean at least one fewer school: two Miami high schools, Baltimore to merge 2 schools, 3 Pennsylvania schools to merge into one, 2 Jacksonville schools to merge.

As Bishop Murry says, we need to confront our brutal realities and build new strategies for sharing the good news about what we do.