August 31, 2007

Consortium now known as Mother Theodore Catholic Academies

By John Shaughnessy

The challenge was distinct: Find a new name for the group of six Indianapolis Catholic schools that work together to provide a quality education for center-city students.

The solution was inspiring: Draw upon the spirit of Indiana’s first saint, St. Theodora Guérin, a woman who dedicated her life to providing education to people from all backgrounds.

Starting this school year, the group of six schools will be known under the “umbrella” name of Mother Theodore Catholic Academies—replacing the previous title of Catholic Urban School Consortium.

“The Catholic Urban School Consortium didn’t speak as clearly as to what our mission is as does the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies,” says Connie Zittnan, director of the academies. “If you look at Mother Theodore, she came to serve the sick and the poor and to educate them.”

Zittnan also explained the reasoning for naming the academies as “Mother Theodore” instead of “St. Theodora.”

“Throughout history, the Sisters of Providence have always considered her as Mother Theodore, their mother figure of the order,” Zittnan explains. “They see a mother as someone who nurtures, who guides the future, someone who shapes spirits, minds and futures. When you think of a mother figure and what they do, it just blends together. It’s a natural joining of the mission.”

That mission is shared by the six Catholic schools that form the group: Holy Angels School, Holy Cross Central School, Central Catholic School, St. Andrew & St. Rita Academy, St. Anthony School and St. Philip Neri School.

The shared mission of the group began in September 2004, driven by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein’s desire to continue to offer a quality Catholic education to center-city students.

The approach complements that desire by helping the six schools operate more efficiently by consolidating and coordinating such areas as finances, maintenance and marketing.

“We are growing,” Zittnan says. “We have increased our enrollment more than 150 students. Our enrollment is more than 925. We continually take students through the first week of September. We are happy for added growth.”

The teachers, staffs and volunteers at the six schools—and at the academies’ archdiocesan office—are looking forward to a new school year, Zittnan says.

“There is a sense of excitement, a sense of growth and a sense of promise.” †

Local site Links: