Unleashing Catholic Schools

A strategic vision for the future of education

By Vanessa Denha Garmo


For centuries, Catholic schools have prepared boys and girls to become men and women of virtue – to fully develop into the person God created them to be – and to joyfully embrace their vocations.

The Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) is Unleashing Catholic Schools through a recently unveiled document.

“It was an outgrowth of Unleash the Gospels, which is the strategic vision of Archbishop Vigneron for the Archdiocese of Detroit. In it, the Archbishop talks a lot about schools,” said Kevin Kijewski, superintendent of schools for the AOD. “This new document puts more flesh on the bones regarding what we are going to do to make our schools proudly Catholic, academically successful, attainable to all and sustainable for the future.”

Catholic education has created servant leaders in the world and saints in life to come. God calls children to become joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ and the schools equip them to do so. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron shares his vision for Catholic schools in the document.

“This document demonstrates that this is a partnership between the Archdiocese and roughly 90 schools, partnering in various areas,” said Kijewsi. “In terms of academic excellence and STEM schools, the AOD will get involved to make sure that the programs work. Under no circumstances will we mandate for a school to do something alone. It is either the Archdiocese taking on a large-scale project or the Archdiocese partnering with a school on a project.”

Recently, the AOD created the Principal Formation Institute which is essentially principal school. So far, 26 highly qualified individuals participated in the program over a series of six months and since then three people have been placed as principals from that program.

The AOD also issued new principal standards and evaluation tools. “This helps our principals remain strong in their leadership,” said Kijewski.

The AOD is also collaborating with the University of Notre Dame. “This partnership will help some of our schools become fully immersed academic STEM schools,” said Kijewski.

STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  “Notre Dame has already worked with 13 schools in the AOD.”

The plan is by the start of the 2020 school year the AOD will have fully immersed STEM schools that are fully Catholic. 

The AOD is also hosting the Archbishop’s Catechetical Day on September 27, which is an outgrowth of the document.  They expect all 3,000 educators to gather at the University of Detroit to hear from Archbishop Vigneron and national speakers on Catholic topics. “This is designed to help them better communicate the gospel to their students,” said Kijewski.

There are projects and initiatives for all the Catholic schools in the AOD. “The ultimate benefit for students is their final exam so when they meet St. Peter at the gate will they pass or fail and we want them to pass,” said Kijewski. “We want our children to have a faith-filled education where they get to know, love and serve Jesus Christ and go out into the world to be joyful disciples of Jesus Christ.”

The AOD is working on a strategic plan to make Catholic schools affordable to anyone who wants to attend. This is part of the sustainability of the plan. “We want families to be able to pay what they can afford,” said Kijewski.

“We need our Catholic schools more than ever so that our young people have the vision that is part of the mind of Jesus-Christ so they don’t slip into a post Christian mentality about how all the world fits together and the place they have in it. Our children must grow and move forward with the heart and mind of Christ,” wrote Archbishop Vigneron in the document.