by Savanna Kearney

The Diocese of St. Augustine is hosting the 2018 National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) Catholic Leadership Summit this week (Oct. 21-24) at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. About 400 Catholic school leaders from around the country are here for the summit.

Chris Lowney gives the keynote address at the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit. (photo by Diocese of St. Augustine/Woody Huband)

This four-day event provides leaders in Catholic schools with an opportunity to not only learn about the changes and challenges in parish schools, but also to network with like-minded leaders in education.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, Bishop Felipe Estévez celebrated  Mass for the Catholic educators and administrators.

Chris Lowney gave the keynote address on Monday, Oct. 22, highlighting what leadership needs from Catholic school educators. In his address, Lowney spoke about the leadership life experiences of Pope Francis and proposed an “EASTeR” strategy: be entrepreneurial, be accountable, serve, transform and reach out to inspire change in schools, dioceses and the Church.

Rhonda Rose, assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of St. Augustine who attended the event, said that our diocese can gain “contemporary perspectives on relevant topics in Catholic educational leadership” from the summit.

“We’re learning about leadership, we’re learning about marketing, development, federal programs, Catholic identity. There are so many topics,” said Rose. “It’s just a great way for the Catholic community at large to get together to show our support for each other and to share experiences. It’s amazing.”

Deacon Scott Conway discusses the keynote address with other leaders in Catholic education. (photo by Diocese of St. Augustine/Woody Huband)

According to Rose, much of the summit’s teaching concerns the growing number of young people leaving the church.

“The church moves slowly, but the world is moving very quickly, and we have to keep up with that,” she said. “So, getting in touch with leaders from around the country, hearing from their perspectives, puts us all in alignment, all on the same page doing what we need to be doing to grow our schools.”

Coordinating the local logistics for the conference is Deacon Scott Conway, superintendent of Catholic schools.