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A John Paul II-inspired Catholic education


8/1/2006 - 6:18 AM PST

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By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed
Catholic Online

The following is a slightly edited version of a talk given by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, director of development for Trinity Academy in Pewaukee, WI. Many thanks to Dr. Mitchell for providing me with the text of her talk; she is a remarkable person.

Catholic Education: On the Front Lines of Communicating the Faith
Professional Challenges and Eternal Rewards

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, Ph.D.
School of Institutional Social Communications
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

_____________________

• Background

I speak to you today as an alumnus of Santa Croce. I came to Rome in 1997 to begin what became a six year stay in the Eternal City. During my time here I earned my Licentiate in Social Communications, my doctorate in Social Communications, and had the privilege of working for three years at the Vatican Information Service of the Holy See Press Office. (First as a Marketing Intern – expanding the services internet visibility and subscription levels, and then as a full-time English-language translator of the daily edition). I also enjoyed the opportunity to work as an English-language translator at the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, and for various Pontifical Councils throughout the Vatican, as I completed my doctoral degree.

I return to Rome as the director of development for the past three years of Trinity Academy, in Wisconsin, USA. Trinity Academy was founded in 1997 as an independent Catholic school, offering grades K-8. In my time at the school, Trinity has opened its first Office of Communications, of which I am the director, expanded to add a high school, and built a classroom building and Eucharistic Chapel edition to its campus. In recent months, the students and faculty of Trinity Academy have earned international visibility in such outstanding publications as Time magazine’s U.S. and European editions, the popular “Famiglia Cristiana” magazine, television coverage on National and Local News Channels, and produced a segment on EWTN”s “Life on the Rock” program, dedicated to our Catholic educational model, and the co-founding of a sister model school in LaCroose, WI, which opened its doors in September of 2005.

How did all of this come about? Through many professional challenges, and a determination to achieve the Eternal Rewards of educating souls for Christ – forming our future communicators of the faith to the modern world.

• Professional Challenges

Let’s begin with the challenges. The reasons why it can’t be done. Not now, not by me, not on this scale, maybe next year, maybe someone else could do it better.

The encouraging answer which I have received to this doubts and protests has been: begin now, start here. My mother, who teaches religion to our Junior and Senior high school students often tells them: “You are God’s best.” If you are not going to go forth and become the witnessed of Christ in the next millennium, who will? If God does not have you, who does He have? No one. There is not someone, some group, some set of alumni or professionals out there who are going to do it better or more faithfully than you, than us.

We are God’s best. He has given us this degree for His purposes – and the apparent challenges must not hinder us from making a beginning – begin now, start here.

HISTORY

It is this call that my own parents answered when they founded Trinity Academy almost ten years ago – in our own home with 17 students. My father felt the call to leave private education in a well-respected Academy to begin an “independent Catholic school. A school founded and funded entirely by lay people seeking the best in Catholic education for their children – faith teaching Scripture, the Catechism, the lives of the Saints, along with a top academic curriculum in literature, mathematics, history, the sciences.

This new school quickly outgrew our home, and, in a few short, months, had taken up residence at the Sunday school facility of a local Episcopal church. With some painting and furniture the happy band of close to 35 students and faculty began classes in this new facility on December 12, 1997, and we have taken Our Lady of Guadalupe as the school’s foundational patroness ever since.

The school continued to grow – families from all over the city, seeking authentic Catholic education, many of whom had been teaching their children in their homes, enrolled their children. The school continued to see a 30% annual growth rate, and within two years, in 1999, the school moved to its current location in Pewaukee, WI, on a 25 acre campus at the site of the former Sts. Peter and Paul Parish.

• (My Role)

When I returned home to join the staff of Trinity Academy, in 2003, the school was ready for ...

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