Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Catholic Colleges Build Exemplary Collaborative Relationship

Article excerpt

Cooperative, supportive programs worth emulating nationally

One of the keys to the success of Catholic education in this country is the synergy that takes place among committed professional organizations and communities to foster the well-being of students, their families, the church and the way Catholic school graduates impact society.

That same synergy encourages Catholic colleges to work with high schools, dioceses and elementary schools to develop collaborative programs that tap the resources, expertise and spirit that exists among organizations.

One good example is in Philadelphia, where Pennsylvania Catholic colleges and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools office developed programs that accentuate the common good that exists in Catholic education.

Dr. Richard V. McCarron, Jr., secretary for education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, articulated his vision of "K through College Catholic" education. He placed a priority on working in different projects that would support and promote the concept.

Patrick Boyle, director of secondary school services for the archdiocese, was given the opportunity to make this "K though College Catholic" vision come alive. Boyle, an energetic, committed and creative educator, was up for the task. "From the very beginning there was excitement about initiating the plans," said Boyle, who received both his bachelors and masters degrees from Holy Family University in Philadelphia. "We want to see our students continue their education at Catholic colleges and universities.

"We believe that our students have experienced in our schools an academic and creative foundation that prepares them for life," Boyle said. "Going to a Catholic college allows them to grow in the same manner that they have grown to respect."

College Traveling Fairs

The first of several programs started four years ago with creation of the Philadelphia Catholic College Traveling Fairs. The fairs resulted from a long process of planning among high school principals, guidance counselors, college admission officers and staff from the archdiocesan secondary schools office.

Over a two-week period in the fall, every Catholic college in the state of Pennsylvania participates in a traveling fair that brings the program to every Catholic high school in Philadelphia. The key ingredient for success is the word "every."

It certainly is not easy to get every high school on board with such a program, when the number of high schools in the diocese ranks among the top five dioceses in the nation.

It's not easy when Pennsylvania is home to more Catholic colleges and universities-27 in all-than any other state in the country.

It is not easy to get every college to agree to be part of visits to every one of the 21 Catholic high schools in the city.

But the spirit of collegiality and the belief in the value of Catholic education makes this happen. The fairs have become one of the heralded programs in the college admission-counseling program today.

In many instances, the exposure to colleges that these high school juniors and seniors get is the first for many first-generation collegebound students. The program introduces the notion of attending college and stresses the importance of higher education.

"The colleges believe in this program and appreciate the fact that it is well organized," said Kevin Zajac, assistant director of admissions for St. …