More than 700 Catholic educators from across the country and overseas will gather online next week to explore, celebrate, and strengthen the growing movement to save Catholic schools through the recovery of the Church’s proven tradition of education.
The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education’s 8th National Conference was forced to shift to an online format this year, but the change has made it possible to triple the capacity of educators who have registered to learn from a prominent lineup of presenters. Dozens of schools are gathering their full faculty to experience the event together or at home. Parents, too, have been drawn to the event. Registration remains open through Monday at www.CatholicLiberalEducation.org. A Pre-Conference Intro Session will be offered for those new to the renewal on Tuesday, July 28, and the full National Conference will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, July 29-30.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver and former Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, will deliver the keynote address, “Christian Anthropology and Today’s Catholic Schools.” Mary Pat Donoghue, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the USCCB, will follow with “Light to the Nation: Catholic Education in Times of Trouble.” Other plenary speakers include Dr. Michael J. Naughton, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, who will speak on “The Heart of Wisdom: Rediscovering the Purpose of Catholic Education,” and Christopher Carstens, Director of the Office for Sacred Worship for the Diocese of Lacrosse, WI, who will close the conference with his talk “Educating for the Eternal.” Hands-on breakout presentations will be offered by veteran educators from all over the country on a variety of topics, from “The Harkness Seminar Method” to “Nature Studies” to “Beowulf.”
“The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education is the only entity currently working to assist Catholic schools in rediscovering and restoring the intellectual tradition of liberal education that is our heritage,” said Mary Pat Donoghue of the USCCB, who previously served as ICLE’s Director of School Services. “Once discovered, teachers and students alike enjoy the freedom that accompanies the joyful pursuit of faith, wisdom, and virtue.”
Since the pandemic forced schools to begin distance learning in March, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE) has stepped in to provide resources, support, and networking to a rapidly growing number of educators, including superintendents and clergy. They have reported that schools rooted in the Church’s authentic vision for education seemed to be weathering the challenges more effectively than others. With that in mind, the theme for ICLE’s National Conference was adjusted to reflect that reality: From Wonder to Wisdom – at School & at Home.
For the past 15 years, ICLE has worked to inspire and equip those committed to Catholic education to fully integrate the Church’s philosophy of education. What began as a grassroots movement has now spread widely, with proven results. A number of schools on the brink of closure have reversed course and transformed themselves into vibrant communities of faith and learning, with full enrollment and even waiting lists.
The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education is dedicated to saving and renewing the treasured Catholic school system, K-12, by restoring and adapting the Church’s time-tested approach in the classical liberal arts and sciences. ICLE serves educators through conferences, workshops, site visits, teacher training, publications, webinars, and consultation services designed to give current and future teachers both theory and practice for immediate use.