Meitler Consultants Reports - Click on Client Access and the Access Code is OMAHA
If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, please contact Mr. Marlan Burki directly.
You can write directly to Archbishop Lucas:
Last Tuesday night, we received the full text of the near-final draft of the Meitler Group's recommendations for the parishes and schools in our part of the Archdiocese. There is an enormous amount of information in the full report, and it should be available soon online at www.archomaha.org.
The recommendations for St. Frances Cabrini Church built upon the previous draft but with more specifics. The first phase of this process would involve the merger of St. Patrick and St. Frances Cabrini, to be completed in one year. That is, these two canonically established parishes would become one parish under Church law. That one parish would have two sites, with the recommendation of moving toward using the Cabrini site for all parish worship and office functions. Once that process is complete, the recommendation goes on to suggest that the new Cabrini / St. Patrick parish then be merged with St. Joseph Church, again to become one parish under Church law. In this case, the single Cabrini / St. Patrick / St. Joseph parish would have two worship sites, one at Cabrini and one at St. Joseph. The process of that second merger is to begin in three years, and to be completed in five years.
The importance of having a single canonical parish is that the Archdiocese only needs to assign one pastor who would have responsibility for administering the combined operation, but who would have the help of one other full-time priest (once the full merger) is underway). If Archbishop Lucas accepts these recommendations, which is likely, the parishes will be asked to begin developing a detailed plan for implementation, with the assistances of a consultant from the Archdiocese.
It is important to remember that "merging" parishes is first a judicial process under Church law; a merged parish can have one or two or more sites but will only have one pastor, perhaps with the help of additional priests. In the first merger, with St. Patrick's, the study suggests moving toward having only one worship site and one office; in the second merger, the study suggests having two worship sites and one office.
In terms of All Saints, we know first of all that our school will not become part of the regional consortium recommended by the planning process. At the same time, the initial recommendation that All Saints be closed has been reconsidered and a new direction proposed: All Saints will join Holy Name and Sacred Heart schools in a loosely structured group of "mission" schools that will look to a soon-to-be-formed charitable foundation to help fund all three. (Sacred Heart is currently operated in this way). Pete Ricketts has been an enthusiastic supporter of this approach, and there is good hope that it will be a good direction for us.
There is much work still to be done: first, All Saints must develop a very careful five-year plan that will describe enrollment, development and other operating goals; the foundation must also be developed and begin its work in order to be able to assist with the operation of All Saints a year from now. All Sains would become a single-parish school again, under the operation of St. Frances Cabrini Church. While this is a very hopeful development, it is important to keep in mind that a lot of work needs to be done successfully if All Saints is to remain vibrant and growing.
We will know more in the next few months as Archbishop Lucas makes final decisions and work begins toward implementation. There is a lot to be grateful for and excited about, but a lot of work that needs to be done as well. Archbishop Lucas should receive final recommendations in late May or early June and then, after study and reflection, plans to announce preliminary decisions in June or early July. Our prayers and involvement have helped this study along the way, and we continue those in the months to come.
Fr. Jim Clifton
Statement printed in
the Cabrini bulletin (April 28-29, 2012) in regards
Folks are aware that the Archdiocese is putting finishing touches on a second draft proposal for the parishes and schools east of 72nd Street; that proposal is to be presented at public meetings scheduled for May 7 and 8. (Our particular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, from 6:30 to 8:45 in the St. Cecilia gymnasium, when they will present the draft for our part of the study area). Unfortunately, someone involved in the process seems to have taken an unauthorized early copy of the draft and released it to the Omaha World-Herald, who then declined to cooperate with the Archdiocese to hold the story until those public meetings were to be held. I say "unfortunately" because they clearly do not have the proper background for understanding the draft they were given, and the copy they received also was not in final form. For example, pastors and principals were given some early information this past Wednesday and were asked for careful feedback that would be used to shape the draft proposal to be shared on May 7-8. One can understand that people get anxious throughout a process like this, but it is only right that confidentiality be respected to that information can be shared first with those most directly affected by any decisions that are proposed. I am embarrassed by and for whoever took it upon themselves to steal a draft copy and share it with the Omaha World-Herald, and I am disappointed at the OWH's refusal to respect the specific request of the Archdiocese to wait 10 days in order to be able to present a more accurate story. More important, I am especially proud of the members of Saint Frances Cabrini Church and the teachers, staff, students and parents of All Saints Catholic School, who have given themselves to this planning process so generously, with great faith and with a lot of class. We will wait until we receive the full report on May 8 so that we have the most accurate information to share; even then we will have about two weeks to provide final feedback before the full report is given to Archbishop Lucas for his decisions.
Fr. Jim Clifton
MARLAN BURKI HAS READ THIS STATEMENT FROM THE BULLETIN AND HE IS IN 100% AGREEMENT WITH THE WORDS FROM FR. CLIFTON. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THIS PARTICULAR STATEMENT OR ANYTHING IN REGARDS TO THIS PROCESS, PLEASE CLICK ON MR. BURKI'S NAME ABOVE TO SEND HIM AN E-MAIL.
Summary of St. Frances Cabrini's Feedback on Schools Proposal Draft One
as published in the Cabrini bulletin (February 11-12, 2012)
There was very strong support for the proposed model of a regional Catholic school system in southeast Omaha. Folds underscored the desirability of opening all schools in the system to families belonging to any parish in the system; the advantages of more equitable resources, teacher salaries and tuition policies; and the strength of having larger schools which would be able to offer additional activities and course offerings. In general, folks believe that this approach, if done well, provides the best future for high-quality, sustainable Catholic education in southeast Omaha.
We believe, though, that there needs to be room in this new regional system for one small school that has a special mission and a proven record of success in that mission. We believe that All Saints Catholic School should be included in this new regional system for the following reasons:
There is no question that All Saints Catholic School is doing an amazing job with its students, and that this success is due primarily to a cadre of especially talented, dedicated teachers who feel they are part of a mission that is even great than that of Catholic education generally. We have a proven track record and provide a distinctive service that none of the other schools provides. We believe that All Saints ought to be included in the proposed regional school system, to continue to provide excellent education in a small, nurturing environment, for an even greater number of students.
Dear Parents and families of students of All Saints Catholic School:
Many of you may have read the story in today's Omaha World Herald regarding possible changes for Catholic elementary education in southeast Omaha. It is important for all of us to have more information about what is going on.
Back in June, Archbishop Lucas announced a process of planning for the 37 Catholic parishes and 18 Catholic grade schools in the area of Omaha east of 72nd Street. There were a number of reasons for starting this planning process. First, our part of the city has changed a great deal since the days when those parishes and schools were established in order to serve very large numbers of newly-arrived immigrants from Europe, most of whom were very poor and who spoke a multitude of languages. Churches with strong ethnic identities were built within each neighborhood to help new immigrants maintain their strong Catholic faith lives, while offering services in native languages from parishes near enough that folks could walk to church. Most parishes eventually built their own schools as well, and those schools were very successful in helping several generations of immigrant families begin new lives in this part of America.
Over the last 50 years, though, many of those families moved further west as Omaha expanded, and those original ethnic neighborhoods became much more diverse. As that patter has continued, we have found ourselves with too many churches and schools that are located too close together for the present and likely future needs of our part of the city. Further, because ours are among the oldest parishes and schools in the city, our buildings need more maintenance, putting a strain on finances that simply "getting by" is not the goal for any given parish or school; we want each one to flourish and to be home for vibrant programs that will serve present parishioners and students and will attract new ones.
Since June, we have been involved in a four-step planning process guided by professional consultants from the Meitler Group, based in Wisconsin, and two local "steering committees," one for parishes and one for schools. In step one, pastors, principals and lay representatives of all parishes and schools were interviewed and much additional data was gathered about population trends, finances, condition of school and parish facilities and more. In the second round, we received an impressive summary of all the information gathered, as well as some conclusions about what all that data indicated: in short, that we needed a better plan to more closely match the needs of our Catholic population with with parishes and schools that would serve those needs. We wanted not to just "get by," but to make sure that all of our schools and parishes had the kind of support and programs that would help them to be strong, vibrant and sustainable.
In round three of this process, which is taking place right now, the consultants and steering committees have presented some initial proposals for the kinds of changes that might be made to help us serve our Catholic population more effectively, making better use of our resources while strengthening our parishes and schools. We heard those proposals for the parishes on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, January 10-11; we received those proposals for the schools this week at meetings held Tuesday and Wednesday, January 17-18.
It is important to remember that these are initial proposals, and that we are now asked to study them, think about them, and give feedback that will help the consultants and committees refine those proposals in preparation for a fourth round of planning in March; final recommendations will be given to Archbishop Lucas in early April for his consideration and decision.
The general direction of the proposals is important. Right now, each of our Catholic grade schools is sponsored and run by one or more parishes, with a lot independence. That approach grew up because of our history, with parishes and schools serving those early ethnic groups. However, that approach now means that there is not as much planning and cooperation among the schools and that the resources available to each school depends mostly on the parishes. That leads to competition among the schools for students, teachers, and financial support, at the same time that most of the schools are operating with less-than-full capacity. Further, families must belong to a school's sponsoring parish in order to qualify for "member" tuition. That means that parent choice is limited because most don't want to change parishes for the sake of changing schools. It is almost certain that, if we keep going this way, some of our schools will fail, one at a time, and one of the schools will be as strong as we'd like.
The Archdiocese is now suggesting a different approach in the southeastern part of the Omaha in which we will take eleven parish-based Catholic grade schools and turn them into a regional school system that will have one board of directors and one executive director over the whole system, all under the supervision of the Archbishop and the Catholic Schools Office. The schools would have a common tuition policy as well as common teacher salaries, and they would be supported by tuition, contributions from all the parishes in the south area, fund raising, and additional support from the Archdiocese. Any family registered in one of the much larger group of parishes would qualify for admission and member tuition at any of the schools in the new system.
Now, here is the challenging part: when it is time to transition to this new system, we will not need all of the building we are presently using. The proposal suggests that our 11 present schools be consolidated into six buildings. At this point, the suggestion is that our All Saints families be absorbed into the other six schools and that our building not be used after June of 2013. One consideration for the choice of the buildings that would be used is a preference for larger schools that can offer two or three classrooms for each grade level, allowing more flexibility and more special programs, especially in the middle school years.
We now have the opportunity as a school community to learn more about this proposal, to discuss it, and to provide feedback. Our feedback will carry more weight if we are careful to point out things that might not have been considered, or if we suggest workable alternatives. Mr. Marlan Burki will announce a date and time for folks to gather to learn more and to discuss this proposal. Our teachers and staff love All Saints and know that you do too; still, for the sake of having the very best Catholic education possible in our part of the city, we are being asked to consider this proposal. It is important for us to be involved in this stage of the process, and to give our feedback.
Please watch for more information from Mr. Burki about upcoming opportunities for discussion and feedback. And please pray for God's guidance for Archbishop Lucas and for all of us as we plan for the very best possible future for our Catholic parishes and schools in southeast Omaha.
Dear Parents and Friends of All Saints:
The first proposal of the Meitler Consultants report has suggested that All Saints Catholic School does not fit their requirements and should be closed in the years ahead. Our job is to convince this group that All Saints provides a special service to her students and families.
With that in mind, I am asking that you sit down this weekend and write a short note (one or two paragraphs only) of how All Saints has helped you or your family. We will then select some to be sent, with a package of other material designed to convince the study group and Archbishop Lucas that All Saints Catholic School is vital to the continue success of the Omaha Archdiocese school system.
All material must be presented to this group by January 31, 2012, so your letters need to be in the office by Monday; Tuesday (January 24, 2012) at the very latest. Thank you for your help and remember: NEVER GIVE UP!!!