BSM and local Archdiocese continue to share good relationship

BSM+maintains+a+positive+relationship+with+the+archdiocese%2C+adjusting+requested+curriculum%2C+offering+opportunities+for+faculty+and+staff+and+considering+church+values+in+decisions%E2%80%93%E2%80%93all+essential+for+its+standing+as+a+Catholic+school.+

Megan Beh

BSM maintains a positive relationship with the archdiocese, adjusting requested curriculum, offering opportunities for faculty and staff and considering church values in decisions––all essential for its standing as a Catholic school.

Mary Pat Ross, Staff Writer

Since its founding, Benilde-St. Margaret’s has been proud of its Catholic heritage and the relationship it maintains with the Archdiocese. Because of this relationship, BSM must adhere to the guidelines put in place by the Archdiocese which can affect the school’s curriculum. Although some of these changes can be met with debate, BSM continues to strive to have a good relationship with the Archdiocese because of the benefits it brings to the school.

The Archdiocese acknowledges BSM as a Catholic school, and in doing so has very specific oversight responsibility regarding the Catholic identity of the school. The Archbishop asked high schools to make changes to the religion curriculum several years ago. BSM was the first Catholic high school in this Archdiocese to adopt the changes. “BSM’s theology department went above and beyond what was asked of Catholic high schools and spent months ensuring that the charisms of BSM’s founding orders, [Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Christian Brothers, and the Benedictines], were appropriately infused and preserved in the new curriculum,” said Sheila Letscher, vice chair of the BSM Board of Directors and appointed member of the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council (ACSAC).

This new change to our school has been viewed as a great attribute by many. It is thought to have deepened the faith of BSM students. “The result of all this great work has been a theology curriculum which in my opinion both celebrates and teaches our Catholic faith in a rigorous manner and provides wonderful service and justice opportunities, all of which encourages students in their faith journeys. I also have to add that the way in which the entire BSM community appreciates differing faith perspectives strikes me as very similar to how we have seen Pope Francis embrace people of all faiths,” Letscher said.

The Archbishop appoints a member of the school board. Father Michael Reding, pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, currently serves in that capacity and adds a valuable perspective to our board discussions. “I try to contribute to discussions and I vote on matters that come before the board. Because I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, when it comes to some matters, I may have some unique insight to offer about how BSM’s plans and policies fit with those of the Archdiocese and our Catholic faith,” said Fr. Reding, who is also a member of the Board of Directors at BSM.

One example is that the Archdiocese, more specifically the Schools Office, provides Catholic school faculty and staff with professional development opportunities. “Religion teachers and principals from the Catholic schools gathered in February of this year for a morning workshop. The workshop was planned by the Archdiocese and it was an excellent opportunity to reconnect with other religion teachers from around the Archdiocese around a common message,” Dr. Sue Skinner said.

There are some very specific board level decisions that require Archdiocesan approval. For example, the making of loans or transfers of real property require prior Archdiocesan approval. “From my perspective, the Archbishop’s expectation that the schools in this Archdiocese be outstanding both in their faith formation and in their academic preparation of students aligns beautifully with the excellent experience that BSM provides to students,” Letscher said.

Overall the positive relationship between BSM and the Archdiocese remains an important attribute to the school community. The Archdiocese strives to make BSM a better school and enhance the spiritual journeys of all students. “Our relationship is good. BSM and the Archdiocese share a common goal of providing an excellent Catholic educational experience for students,” Dr. Skinner said.