Sabbatical - A New Opportunity For Lifelong Learning

by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 2 yrs ago

Earlier in the school year, my superiors at the Archdiocese of Indianapolis along with our Board of Directors and Fr. Jim Wilmoth, the Dean of the Indianapolis South Deanery, granted me an opportunity to take an academic sabbatical during the majority of the second semester of this school year. When I announced this to our students at an all-school Mass in December, I began by talking about the Sabbath principle laid down by God in the book of Genesis. My reflection on a “day of rest” that God prescribes for us all caught our students’ attention. I stood in awe as they listened closely to all that I had to say. Thanks to my daughter, I later understood that many of them thought I was getting ready to give them all a day off from school. No wonder they paid such close attention! Much to their disappointment, no such announcement came–only an update on where I would be for the next four months.

During the time of my absence from Roncalli, I will still be intimately involved in issues related to education. Many of you know that I am currently enrolled in a program to complete my doctoral studies in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University. The purpose of the sabbatical leave granted by the Archdiocese will be to not only engage in a period of spiritual reflection but also to undertake a program of focused reading, travel, research and writing related to completing the research requirements at Creighton. I will also use this time to complete some volunteer work for a special project at Marian University along with some other service opportunities that I hope to pursue.

Much of my reading, writing and studies over the past 18 months has been related to the growing amount of government funding of private religious schools in the United States. Nowhere is that support growing faster than in Indiana. Many of my fellow administrators have pressing questions about how this growing level of funding may affect our freedom to operate our schools in a way we see as staying true to our mission as a teaching arm of the Church. The focus of the research that lies ahead of me is to study how other countries have dealt with growing government support of religious schools in ways that preserve the autonomy of those schools. There are systems of government support of religious schools that have worked quite well in some areas of the world. I hope to take the lessons we can learn from those countries where it is working well and apply them locally as this type of funding takes root in Catholic schools in Indiana.

Our board and administrative team have worked hard to assure that essential functions and duties are properly covered in my absence. We have developed a plan with which we are all comfortable. For those of you who are in regular contact with the school you have probably noticed that we are surrounded by a wonderful group of leaders and administrators who are all extraordinarily competent. I have every confidence that things at Roncalli will carry on in fine fashion while I am gone.

I am very grateful for this opportunity. I know I am blessed to work in a community that truly puts a value on our mission of developing “lifelong learners in service to others.” I hope in some small way that my efforts to continue my own path of lifelong learning provide an example for our students to take this call to heart.

Your prayers will be deeply appreciated. Thank you for the many sacrifices you make on behalf of Catholic education. We have an extraordinary school made even more exceptional by the level of those sacrifices. I am blessed to be a member of the Roncalli Family! I pray that you feel the same way as well.

God bless you all in every good way!

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