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Make a New Year’s Resolution to Plan for Possible Taxmageddon

Supporting Students through a Pandemic

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, teachers, counselors, and administrators alike are left grappling with keeping students safe and engaged among a myriad of new restrictions. These restrictions vary from school to school but likely include wearing masks when indoors, social distancing in already cramped classrooms, and little to no daytime movement. While these restrictions have been designed for a student’s physical safety, all too often, these regulations restrict the lessons teachers can give.

For example, the need for a socially distant classroom has lessened group work, which cuts down on differentiated instruction, social, emotional, and time management skills. While group work can be emulated through virtual methods, those activities cannot replace the real-world application of hands-on, in-person group work.

Even more importantly, in the socially distant classroom where group work and small group instruction have become virtually impossible, students’ social, emotional needs are at risk. Teachers need to adapt to this change in circumstances and allow students opportunities for academic growth and emotional growth.

Also, teachers must be keenly aware of the physical toll the virus can take on a student. Despite the restrictions given to any given school, teachers must develop their own methods to identify at-risk students and get them the help they need. Even more than that, they must develop a language for discussing these issues in the classroom that is developmentally appropriate for their students.

While it is important to monitor students for the physical signs and symptoms of COVID 19, it is also imperative to monitor their mental health. No matter the situation – a virtual, hybrid, or in-person – students are not receiving the same amount of socialization they once enjoyed in the classroom, so consider these warning signs when working with students.

Warning signs develop differently depending on students’ age level but often include a withdrawal from both adults and their peers and a general decline in student behavior. Younger students might begin sucking their thumbs or wetting their beds, whereas older students might develop a lack of concentration irritability.

To learn more on how to support students through the ever-changing rules and regulations of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the
National Association of School Psychologists

Homeschooling Tips for Parents from Catholic Educators

While growing up, children dreamed of becoming astronauts, lawyers, doctors, superheroes, actors, lawyers, etc. However, no one ever dreamed of becoming an emergency homeschooler. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people from different parts of the world have learned to appreciate real-life superheroes such as parents and healthcare providers.

Parents, despite their many duties, still find time to educate their children. They have to prepare meals, do house chores, exercise, and raise their children. Apart from encouraging sharing and modeling good behavior, parents have to homeschool their children during this pandemic.

Despite the pandemic, teachers continue to offer their services using online tools and interactive technology. They continue to prepare lesson plans and give assignments to their students. To parents, monitoring and directing online learning can be challenging. However, it doesn’t mean that homeschooling is impossible. Here are homeschooling tips for parents from catholic educators.

Parents Need To Understand Their Role

Parents aren’t trained or qualified to teach students professionally. However, they need to understand that God has given them the responsibility to nurture and educate their children. According to the Catholic Church’s Catechism, nurturing and educating kids is a duty that parents should accept with pride.

Have a Plan and a Routine

When parents ask their children to sit down for a homeschooling session, the chances are that the kids will complain or resist. Therefore, parents should come up with a plan or a routine to avoid resistance. As a result, the kids get to understand what needs to be completed within a given time frame.

Parents should ensure that the plan or routine is attainable and have realistic objectives. A plan with realistic objectives can boost the kid’s confidence or give them a sense of accomplishment. The goal of homeschooling should be to engage children to achieve success and not discourage them from learning. Parents should ensure that they have several routines to prevent boredom.

Ease Up a Little

Even though a structured schedule can help students remain focused, allowing them to enjoy breaks and various activities has its advantages. For instance, activities such as stacking blocks and Legos are both educational and entertaining.

Parents need to focus more on the success of their children instead of failures. While homeschooling, parents should also encourage creativity. Following the above tips can help parents raise their kids better and develop their academic skills.

10 Leadership Lessons from Steven Virgadamo

  1. Listen without interrupting. (Proverbs 18)

  2. Speak without accusing (James 1:19)

  3. Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)

  4. Answer without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)

  5. Pray without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)

  6. Share without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)

  7. Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)

  8. Trust without wavering. (Corinthians 13:7)

  9. Forgive without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)

  10. Promise without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12)

Top Catholic Podcasts 2020

Podcasts are an excellent way not only to be entertained, but keep informed about various subjects. With topics ranging from broad to niche, it’s no surprise that some Catholics have taken to this medium to spread the word of God to people everywhere. Though there are plenty of podcasts out there that deserve a light shining on them, these particular podcasts have something special about them that makes them the top Catholic podcasts of 2020.


The Catholic Feminist


This podcast is a call to women everywhere who wish to be “informed, inspired, and intentional” in their faith and community. The host of the show, Claire Swinarski, releases a new episode once a week covering significant topics in today’s world, such as racism, postpartum depression, human trafficking, immigration, and much more. Swinarski remains authentic in her episodes and has genuine discussions about the role of women in both the Church and in society, creating a space for those who wish to feel empowered.


Jen Said What?!


Jen Fulwiler, host of the SiriusXM radio show The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, takes points of interest from her radio job and highlights them during her podcast. A former atheist and nerd mother to six children, Fulwiler examines pop culture engagingly and thoughtfully that’s sure to be entertaining. Her podcast is perfect for those who want to listen to her radio show, but are never quite able to catch it.


Word on Fire


The Word on Fire podcast, hosted by Bishop Barron, skillfully takes the richness of Catholicism and interweaves it with modern culture. His podcast is both vivid and accessible to Catholics at all stages of their journey with Christ, educating and uplifting his audience to the truth and knowledge found within the Church. From insights on great Catholic thinkers to everyday, practical advice, Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire is a must-listen.


Fr. Mike Schmitz


Fans of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s YouTube channel will be thrilled to learn that he also has a podcast available to listen to while on the go. Though short, Fr. Mike Schmitz often reflects on a variety of topics, such as practical living advice and Catholic teachings. His podcast is down-to-earth and aims to “help listeners live out the Christian life more effectively.” 

NCEA 2018 President’s Awards Recipients Announced

Originally posted on

NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford, remarked, “By their example of living the Gospel, the honorees display the virtues taught in Catholic schools. These six people have influenced Catholic schools through their passion and commitment to Catholic education.”

The President’s Awards are awards given in the names of individuals and organizations who display the significant virtues of contribution, support, leadership and development to impact Catholic education in the United States.

Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel, professor of educational administration and policy studies at The Catholic University of America, will be honored with the C. Albert Koob Merit Award. This award is given to an individual or organization that has made a meaningful contribution to Catholic education at any level in teaching, administration, parish religious education, research, publication or educational leadership. Dr. Schuttloffel’s exemplary guidance has produced graduates who serve in Catholic leadership positions around the country.

Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership of the Archdiocese of New York, will be presented with the John F. Meyers Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual or organization that has provided substantial support for Catholic education in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations. Mr. Virgadamo has worked in over 95% of the Catholic dioceses in the United States, and has guided schools, parishes and dioceses to raise more than $500 million in new funding through philanthropic giving, ensuring that schools’ futures are secure through thoughtful strategic planning, improved governance organization and effective marketing.

John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-public Education Association, will be recognized with the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award. This award honors a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education. The right to choose the schools they believe best serve their children is a rallying cry for parents of modest means who, he argues, have a legitimate claim to public support. As a school choice advocate, Mr. Elcesser brings the unique lens of having served both as a private school leader and a public policy advocate. In Indiana, John was a leader of the coalition that successfully passed tax-credit scholarship and voucher legislation.

The Academy of Catholic Educators (ACES), which is based at Notre Dame of Maryland University, is the honoree for the Dr. Karen M. Ristau Innovations Award. This award is reserved for an individual, school or program that has furthered the mission of Catholic education through an innovative program or approach. In the five years since its inception the ACES program has grown to assisting over 30 schools in both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to the point that there are more requests for services than time available for the current two instructional coaches. This program has changed the face of participating schools from whole group, teacher-centered instruction to engaged, student-centered instruction.

Mayra Alza Wilson, coordinator of Latino outreach for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, will be honored with the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award. This award is given in recognition of promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs. During Ms. Alza Wilson’s tenure the Latino population increased from 4.5% to 18.8% in the ten targeted schools of the urban core of Cincinnati and Dayton. These ten schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati experienced a 98% retention rate for Latino students for the 2015-2016 school year, 2% of the students moved out of the state.

This year, NCEA added a Special Recognition Award to be presented posthumously in the name of Dr. Stephen Phelps, former president of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. This award is in recognition and appreciation for 40 plus years of service and dedication to Catholic education and his tremendous impact on Catholic schools in the San Francisco bay area.

More information on the 2018 President’s Awards is available online.

The Plenary Council of Baltimore to the New Millennium – “Steven Virgadamo” reflects on Catholic Schools


The growth of the Catholic schools in this country really received its impetus from the Plenary Councils of Baltimore in the late 1880’s. In the Third Council of Baltimore it was decreed that every parish must have a parish school. It was also suggested that these schools were to be free for every child. It was the duty of the whole parish to support this educational initiative and to make this a priority for the parish community. At the same time there were emerging religious communities of men and women who undertook the task of providing the staffing for these schools at little compensation other than a roof over their heads and food to eat. The population that was being served was basically an immigrant population that had many needs such that both the parishes and the schools became the center of life for its members.

This model worked well for the first half of the 20th Century. Its success could be attributed to an articulated vision, a committed constituency, a commitment to excellence in education, “cheap labor” and a willingness to do whatever was needed to maintain its viability. i.e.; the selling of wrapping paper, magazines, light bulbs, candy, carnivals, bingo nights, etc.

However, by 1969 we were experiencing societal upheaval and feeling the impacts of the Second Vatican Council, both changed the landscape and in many ways altered the paradigm upon which the Catholic schools system had thrived in the first part of the century. Many of the values and traditional institutions that helped support the Catholic schools in the earlier part of that century were ripped apart. Yet in many ways the Catholic schools continued to move forward often with the same structures and the same guiding principles yet now in a radically different environment. In hindsight, one might say the schools were unhampered by progress.

Reverend John Flynn, former Director of Education for the Archdiocese of Omaha and Richard Burke, the founder of Catholic School Management Inc. began in the early 1970’s calling for a change in the paradigm of Catholic School financing and marketing. For those if us that are old enough to remember it was a difficult message as many would respond we are the church, not a business and would cover their ears if the word marketing was used in a conversation related to our schools. This author hopes that the annals of the history of Catholic School education will recognize Father Flynn and Richard Burke among others as pioneers in changing the face of how our Catholic schools in America schools are financed, governed, administered and marketed.

Today and Tomorrow

There has been much research and many studies done in recent years around the challenges facing Catholic schools in the 21st Century. There has been increasing dialogue among many differing constituents as to what can be done to maintain and strengthen our schools going forward.

It is my hope that all baptized members of our Church will reaffirm unequivocally that the Catholic school is the best place for the formation of the next generation of Catholics. Studies have shown that those who attended Catholic schools in the past are by and large the leaders in our parishes today. They are more faithful in participating in the sacramental life of the Church and in their active engagement in the parish community.

The canons are very specific about the quality of education offered in a Catholic school and each Ordinary is responsible for assuring that the education offered in a Catholic school must be as good or better than what a family can receive within their respective community. With this in mind, as we forge ahead, we need to constantly evaluate and access the work that is being done to make sure the schools are accomplishing the goals that are set for them and also that they have the necessary resources to make this a reality.

The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has developed a new resource which is known as “National Standards and Benchmarks for effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.” These standards describe how the mission-driven, program effective, well managed and responsibly governed Catholic schools operate. The Association developed these standards in the hope that they would give cohesiveness to our articulation of one’s understanding of what we mean when we use the term Catholic school and the expectations one can anticipate when they enroll their child in a Catholic School.

In the document there are three types of statements that are grounded in Church teachings, best practices and proven success of those committed to the future of Catholic elementary and secondary education in the United States. In summary, The “National Standards and Benchmarks for effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools:

  • Documents the Defining Characteristics, which describe the deep Catholic identity of Catholic Schools.
  •  Identifies Standards, which communicate policies, programs, structures, and processes that should be present in a Catholic school.
  • Suggests Benchmarks, which allow one to provide observable, measurable, and clear descriptors for evaluating and crafting improvements to the Catholic school experience.

Prudent use of this tool can help to better articulate why we need our Catholic schools. We need to explain more emphatically that their maintenance is the responsibility of the whole Catholic community and not simply the parents of the children who attend them. We need to enlist the support of a wider constituency in our community who sees the valuable resource that our schools are to society at large and are willing to partner with us in maintaining their viability.

In promoting the reason for our schools we need to point out that our schools are not only places where one can learn to read and write but they are places where a person is helped to develop their full potential, to be formed in the true values of our Christian faith, to participate in a nurturing and Christ-centered community where one is encouraged to develop his /her relationship with Jesus and with others so that the unique dignity of every person is respected and valued.

It often surprises me that there is so much discussion today regarding the Catholic Identity of our Schools. As an individual with nearly a lifetime of service to Catholic education, I can recall first reading the Bishops Pastoral Letter issued in 1971 entitled “To teach as Jesus Did”. It seems as valid today as it did then as it focuses on for us the three-fold mission of our Catholic schools – to proclaim the Gospel, to build community and to serve our brothers and sisters.

Perhaps the dialog should no longer be about what is the Catholic identity of our schools, but how do we best implement the guidance of the pastoral letter. Specifically, the school must be a place where the virtue of charity and love for one’s neighbor is the touchstone of the daily life and activity of the school. Christian Community service must be fostered as a constitutive dimension of one’s formation into the fully formed human person that is the goal of all Catholic education.

We must not be hesitant to point out to parents that our Catholic schools are more important than ever in assisting them in their responsibility as the primary educators of their children. We live in a time and in a culture whose values are progressively more and more secular and humanistic. Unfortunately in our country today the government sponsored education that is being offered to children is one based on the philosophy of secular humanism. The values of that system are quite contrary to our understanding of human nature and the way the Lord calls us to live. Our Catholic faith calls us to evangelize our culture and our Catholic elementary and Secondary schools play a critical and irreplaceable role in this effort.

If we are to maintain and prosper our Catholic schools 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.

Some believe the two largest challenges facing Catholic Schools are Finance and Governance. While not discounting these challenges, I choose to respectfully disagree. In my opinion the most crucial threat to our schools is leadership. It 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 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.


The Second Vatican Council called for a wider participation of the laity in the mission and work of the Church. The school is an appropriate venue for this participation. The Catholic School leader at the helm of our schools in the 21st century will embrace the concept of stewardship and expand the involvement of the management of the school to include competent lay leaders. This collaborative model of governance will utilize a wider pool of talent to help fashion and communicate the direction of the school and its mission. While the role of the Pastor is vital and important as “Shepherd”, the pastor of a parish with a Catholic school should partner with his school administrator to enlist the skills and talents of his parishioners in the running and maintaining the parish and school. We must not be shy about asking individuals to give of their time and talent to help in this important and essential work of the Church. Every pastor and school administrator needs the assistance of a Board, which will help direct and guide the future well being of the school. Since the early 1990’s I have been along with Richard Burke and others a strong advocate of establishing Boards of limited jurisdiction.

Humility, while a great virtue in an individual can be deadly for an institution.  Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel,” Neither do you light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket where no one can see but rather on a lamp stand so it gives light to all the world.”(Matt: 5:15)

The global communications network that has come of age with the development of the Internet requires schools to be able to communicate their message effectively to their constituents. This will require a well thought out and well crafted marketing plan for the school. The Catholic schools will not succeed unless they tell their success story effectively to a wider community and promote the success they achieve in working with our young people. People like to support successful endeavors and they like to be associated with   winning programs.  John Kennedy said: “Success has many father’s, but failure, is always an orphan.”

There is no question that the maintenance of our Catholic schools and the education they provide will be an ongoing challenge in the years ahead. However, we must not underestimate the overall benefits that come to a parish, diocese and our church from sponsoring Catholic schools. Our schools are about children and the formation that is needed to help them develop into the sons and daughters that God has called them to be.

A Catholic school is a life giving entity. The energy that young families bring to the community needs to be harnessed and guided. In truth good Catholic schools can and should be the lifeblood of our parishes, dioceses and church.

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

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Sister St. Henry Moloney was the sister of Fr. Oliver Moloney.  She spent many years in Missionary work and spoke perfect Spanish. She helped found of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate.  My friend Fr. Oliver Moloney and I visited her at their Marian Residence Retirement Home in Cambridge Ontario when we were driving to the first Call to Holiness Conference in the USA in 1990s.

Pope To Youth: Find Jesus In Ecumenism

Pope To Youth: Find Jesus In Ecumenism

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All the blether about youthful “restlessness” reminds me of the assumption, commonly heard in conversation, that all teenagers are rebellious. I questioned it when I was a teenager myself and I question it now. It seems designed to ignite rebellion in young people. And sadly, only a minority, seem to be mature enough to not want to be “restless” or “rebellious”.

An Attitude of Gratitude Even In Our Darkest Hours

Recently, I finished a great read. The book’s title is “Jesus Calling”. Each little vignette is written as if Jesus is talking to you. One of the vignettes suggested that we should thank God for our problems. I thought it was an insight and a point of view that has much merit. It read:

“THANK ME FOR YOUR PROBLEMS. As soon as your mind gets snagged on a difficulty, bring it to Me with thanksgiving. Then ask Me to show you My way to handle the situation. The very act of thanking Me releases your mind from its negative focus. As you turn your attention to Me, the problem fades in significance and loses its power to trip you up. Together we can deal with the situation, either facing it head-on or putting it aside for later consideration.

Most of the situations that entangle your mind are not today’s concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow. In this case, I lift the problem out of today and deposit it in the future, where it is veiled from your eyes. In its place I give you My Peace, which flows freely from My Presence.” (Philippians 4:6; John 14:27)