History of Green Bay’s Catholic school system
The Green Bay area Catholic school system was confirmed in January 2007 when then-Bishop David Zubik approved the Faith Alive plan. The plan’s purpose was to inspire parishes and schools in the greater Green Bay area to identify common ministries and deliver them more effectively through collaboration.
The original diocesan planning process for schools throughout the diocese, initiated in January 2005, was also called GRACE, which stood for Green Bay Regional Association of Catholic Education.
The second initiative, called Faith Alive, was proposed in fall 2006, to address not only day schools, but called on the 23 Green Bay area parishes to work together in the areas of adult faith formation, evangelization, pastoral care, peace and justice, prayer and worship, religious education for children, stewardship, and youth and young adult ministry.
In 2007, Bishop Zubik approved the creation of the present Catholic school system that will serve the approximate 2,800 area students.
In March 2008, the school system was legally incorporated as Catholic Schools Education Alliance of the Bay Area. The system will be fully operational by the 2012-2013 school year.
According to Carol Conway-Gerhardt, GRACE president, area students, staff, parents and parishioners were invited to submit logo ideas. A total of 74 entries were received, and a committee narrowed those down to eight.
The eight were presented to Bishop David Ricken and then put to a vote during Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 24 to Feb. 1. More than 3,500 votes were cast at the 10 schools and 23 parishes in the Green Bay area, which includes Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bay Settlement, Bellevue, De Pere, Green Bay and Howard.
Bishop Ricken attended the assembly and told the 300 people gathered in the school’s gymnasium that GRACE was a fitting name for the school system and “a wonderful way to unite all of our schools.”
He explained that grace is a theological term. “That means it comes from the Bible and it’s been reflected on a lot in the history of the church,” said Bishop Ricken, adding that grace is described as “the loving presence of God.”
“In our Catholic schools we look for the presence of God, don’t we?” he said. “It is also our prayer that, through our works of charity and kindness and joy, we may spread that wonderful grace and presence of God.”
A surprise announcement was also made at the assembly.
Bishop Ricken said that every Catholic school and school system has a patron or patroness. “The patroness for our new schools system of Green Bay is going to be Our Lady of Grace, who will teach us how to be more and more aware of the presence of her son Jesus in our schools,” he said.
The GRACE logo was created by Nikki Goral, a member of Holy Cross Parish, Bay Settlement. Conway-Gerhardt explained that the logo represents the natural landscape of the bay. Its blue color also represents the bay and the sky. “It features the life process of growing up and returning the gifts we have been given through the graduation of small dots to larger dots.”
Conway-Gerhardt said that the school system’s name and logo unveiling kicks off a campaign to boost enrollment and raise funds. She said enrollment at the 10 schools now stands at approximately 2,800 students. “We want to be over 3,000 students by 2010-2011,” she said. “We want to initiate (an enrollment campaign) by having a stronger image and a stronger message.”
She described fund-raising as an investment campaign.
“We’re asking our community to invest in this Catholic school system,” she said. “It’s not so much under a fund-raising model as a donor-philanthropic model because they believe this is an investment and that we will be strong, vibrant and more effective by being together.”
The campaign seeks to raise $1 million over the next two years, and Conway-Gerhardt said a development team consisting of board of trustee members and community members will oversee the project.
The school system president also said that GRACE will allow schools to collaborate in areas such as curriculum, accreditation, technology, finances and marketing.
“People want Catholic faith-based education, even some who are not of that faith but still see the value of the closeness to God,” she said.