Ds Scholarship

New group offers advice, support for priests with role in Catholic schools

Washington (CNS) – Father Peter MJ Stravinskas said that Catholic priests have a “crucial” role in Catholic schools and need a source of advice and support for that role.

To this end, he formed a new association called the Priestly Society of the Priest and Teacher of Christ.

He said, “Now more than ever, priests are needed in our high schools as a visible presence of the church, practicing ‘presence service.’” In addition to providing future lay leaders, our high schools continue to be the most reliable source for priestly vocations.

He said the new organization is a fraternal association for priests who currently serve in Catholic high schools as well as for priests who have served the apostolate or who wish to do so in the future. He added that seminarians are welcome as well.

“Over the past several years, priests, either engaged in apostolic high school or considering such work, have sought advice and support for their unique and critical ministry,” the priest told the Catholic News Service.

Father Stravinskas explained that the new community he started is “guided by the didactic principles and example of Saint John Henry Newman” and “seeks to strengthen brotherhood and to promote best practices among those priests who serve the Church in this most privileged mission,” and is founder and president of the Priestly Society of Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman .

Saint John Henry Newman, who was canonized in 2019, was a well-known British scientist, theologian, and Anglican priest who was accepted into the Catholic Church, became a Catholic priest and later named Cardinal. His role as a teacher was pivotal in his ministry.

Father Stravinskas said he has found the new young priests to be enthusiastic about Catholic education and willing to take on a role in the school, but he said it is essential that they be prepared to take on the responsibility that this entails. He added that much of what they need to know is not taught at the estate.

Father Stravinskas said that the priest’s first responsibility is to be available to meet the liturgical and sacramental needs of the students and faculty of the school, but they also deal with young people who are high school students at a time in their lives when they are most easily influenced. Many factors, including peers and society at large.

Father James Coroli, for example, said he could have used the support of an organization like the Priestly Assembly of Christ Priest and Teacher when he started his high school career.

Now president/head of Cathedral Prep and Seminary in Brooklyn Diocese, New York, Father Coroli said at the time he was “thrown at the end of the deep pool, without any preparation.”

Father Michael Davis, a pastor in the Diocese of Miami who is also an old Catholic teacher, said he sees the new assembly as “precisely the kind of collegial and ministerial support that would greatly benefit the priests who serve in the apostolic education of the Church today.”

The idea for the organization came from Catholic Education Foundation sponsored workshops “for seven summers on the role of the priest in Catholic school today,” said Father Stravinskas, who is also the foundation’s president.

“One of the consistent demands was the creation of an association to provide guidance and support to priests serving as priests, teachers or administrators in our secondary schools,” he said.

Bishop Thomas A. Daley of Spokane, Washington, who is president of the American Conference of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education: “Priests are needed in schools now more than ever.”

“Often a priest is appointed to the secondary pedagogical dissertation himself,” said the bishop, himself an old educator. Bishop Daly added that the Priestly Society of Saint John Henry Newman and its new assembly, the Priestly Society of the Priest and Teacher of Christ, offer “wisdom, guidance, and fraternity that will aid him in this essential service.”

The Executive Director of the USCCB Catholic Education Secretariat also expressed support for the new community.

“In this apostolic age, our schools must dynamically bear witness to the teachings of Christ in every aspect of the school’s mission, from its curricula and teaching methods to its culture and social elements,” said Mary Pat Donoghue. “The guidance that the priest provides – the ‘substitute Christ’ – is very important to this effort.”

Father Stravinskas said that members of the community will be able to get advice on the challenges they face from seasoned educators and priests. He also envisions holding an annual retreat for the group.

Read more about the schools

Copyright © 2021 Catholic News Service / American Conference of Catholic Bishops


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here