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June 7, 2009

Retiring high school president shares thoughts on education

Jesuit Father Ted Munz, the president of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, retired at the end of the 2008-2009 school year after 13 years leading the school. He shared his thoughts with Jesuit Father Matt Gamber for the Catholic New World.

Catholic New World: Do you think the Catholic Church is right to put so much emphasis on Catholic high schools these days when there are so many needs?

Father Ted Munz: I believe that we need to give Catholic education an even greater emphasis. Forming our young people in the faith is quite challenging in a society that is increasingly secular and affluent, in a world that relativizes values and in a culture that has many distractions to a faith-filled life.

It is disturbing that the Catholic population of the Chicago archdiocese has grown over the years and the number of students in Catholic secondary education has declined.

CNW: What has brought you great satisfaction in your role as president of Loyola Academy?

Munz: Forming and educating young men and women is exciting. Happily, we have been able to accomplish a lot during my time here.

Our programs and facilities have all improved during my time here. I am particularly pleased with our innovative formation curriculum, our financial aid program, the luster that has been brought to our chapel, and our Glenview Campus.

CNW: It seems athletics are more important than ever in high schools. Is that a good thing? Any downside to it?

Munz: Athletics are a critical component of formation. High school sports are so enjoyable for me to watch. What we must guard against is losing the purity of the sports because of excessive pressures for year-round participation or success at any price.

CNW: Fundraising has to be a big part of your job. Any tips for your successor or for Catholic high schools about how to gain financial support?

Munz:We have a good story to tell. Make sure that it is heard.

Don’t be afraid of words like “branding” and “marketing.”

Have the right people on the bus who are professionals in fundraising. A lot of pavement has to be pounded to bring in the major gifts.

Build a strong annual fund.

Build a strong admissions program.

CNW: What has helped you or inspired you to be able to live out your charism as a Jesuit and as a priest in such a heavily administrative role at a high school?

Munz: It is so easy to be pastoral, priestly and Jesuit in my job. It’s what the job is all about: working with people on a mission, empowering and affirming people in their work, making sure that our students have what they need, reaching out to those who are most in need, celebrating Eucharist, teaching, grounding others in the Spiritual Exercises (of St. Ignatius).