Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald

Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, chairman of new Executive Board of Elementary Education

One of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Catholic Education was that parish and regional Catholic grade schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia be advised by an Executive Board of Elementary Education.

Little more than a year later, the recommendation has come to pass with the announcement March 4 of the creation of that board to serve the whole Archdiocese, and the commitment to create advisory councils in each of the five counties.

“The Executive Board of Elementary Education and the five County Advisory Councils will work very closely with the Office of Catholic Education and the principals of the elementary schools,” said Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald in a statement released by the Archdiocese.

The bishop oversees Catholic education in the Archdiocese and will serve as the chair of the executive board.

“The collective mission of the executive board and the advisory councils will be to understand and plan for the demographic shifts, enrollment trends and financial pressures that all schools face today so that working more strategically across the counties we can provide  accessible, affordable, high quality Catholic education for all of those who desire it,” the bishop said.

The goal of the board and councils is to help parishes, their pastors and Catholic regional and neighborhood schools with strategic planning, marketing, enrollment and governance to help strengthen and grow the schools.

The councils are expected to work with three independent groups: Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), which has funded Catholic school scholarships for 33 years; the Faith in the Future Foundation, begun last winter with the goal of raising $15 million for Catholic education and which last August assumed operational control of the 17 archdiocesan  high schools and four schools of special education; and the Independence Mission Schools, which manages 16 “mission” Catholic schools operating in poor neighborhoods of Philadelphia and Delaware County.

Formed last October, the executive board has been adding members ever since and forming the advisory councils. The regional bishop for each of the Archdiocese’s five counties will appoint members of the councils, to be made up of principals, pastors, parents and representatives from the community.

The current members of the executive board are: Msgr. Joseph Marino, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Strafford; Msgr. Daniel Kutys, moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese; Sister Carroll Isselmann, I.H.M., director of strategic initiatives at Immaculata University; Victoria Kim Flaville, an executive with the Connelly Foundation; Paul Mulholland, retired treasurer at Sunoco; Gerald J. Parsons, CEO of Communications Test Design; Brian Zwaan, co-founder and executive with Penn Liberty Bank; Alfred Christopher Dezzi, an executive with the Dezzi Group; Msgr. Michael J. Matz, pastor of St. Genevieve Parish, Floutown; and Jacqueline Coccia, archdiocesan superintendent of elementary schools.