My Dear Friends in Christ,
“Faith in Tomorrow” represents the new vision for Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo as well as my unwavering commitment to the education of our children which I believe is among the most important missions of the Catholic Church and the diocese today.
Our new vision is based on the collective work of nine committees that developed seven key result areas for Catholic Education in our diocese:
1. Catholic Identity
2. Organizational Structure and Leadership
4. Academic Excellence
5. Marketing and Communications
6. Facilities and Transportation
7. Health and Human Services
While this document focuses on our elementary schools, our 15 Catholic high schools and seven Catholic colleges and universities in Western New York are part of the continuing dialogue and planning to strengthen Catholic schools in the continuum from Pre-kindergarten for 3 year olds through post-graduate doctoral programs and our graduate school of theology and ministry.
Under the leadership of Carol Kostyniak, secretary for Catholic education, and Dr. Rosemary Henry, superintendent of Catholic schools, we have made tremendous strides in advancing the mission of our schools:
• We have updated our Christ-centered curriculum which is in line with New York state education standards.
• We have secured access to yellow bus service for our Catholic elementary school students in the city of Buffalo who can ride a yellow bus from any location in Buffalo to any of our 11 Catholic elementary school campuses in the city.
• We continue to invest in educational technology upgrades in the classroom, empowering our faculty members and students.
• We are reconnecting with more than 200,000 of our elementary school alumni through the Catholic Alumni Partnership; they are supporting their alma maters in myriad ways.
We have also made some incredibly difficult decisions to close some of our parish schools in the last 10 years, and we continue to learn from that experience.
Our primary focus is in the classroom where faculty work to assure a premier academic experience for our students:
• 98 percent of Catholic high school students graduate and progress to college.
• The BISON Fund and the Oishei Scholarship Program, in partnership with the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, now provide tuition assistance to Catholic school families in need in all eight counties of Western New York.
• Foreign language instruction is on the rise in our schools, with some of our Catholic high schools now offering classes in Mandarin Chinese.
It is important that I specify my role in “Faith in Tomorrow” in the coming months. The Code of Canon Law required that I submit my letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI after my 75th birthday, June 4, 2011. It usually takes up to a year for the Holy Father to name a successor, which means I will continue to function with full powers of the bishop until the 14th Bishop of Buffalo is appointed. I think he will be well-pleased to know that he will take the helm of a diocese that has invested so much time, thought and passion in charting a new course for our Catholic schools.
“Faith in Tomorrow” begins today with the firm belief that we are poised to sustain and grow an educational platform, centered in Christ, which dates back more than 150 years. It is a covenant that will result in stronger schools, better educational opportunities and will make our Catholic schools even more appealing to parents, students and educators. This plan will be updated and fine-tuned on a regular basis as part of the ongoing diocesan strategic planning initiative that is focusing on the future priorities of our ministries.
Please join me and the thousands of Catholic educators, parents, alumni and supporters in this effort. I invite you to read more about the plan in the following pages and consider how you can contribute to the success of this vitally important ministry. Together, we will do great things, for with Christ, anything is possible.
Sincerely in Christ,
+Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo