When is a Catholic School NOT a Catholic School?

Answer: when it’s a “School in the Catholic tradition.” And when your bishop already told you he doesn’t want another school in his diocese.

Trinity Hall is supposedly opening its doors in September, but it doesn’t seem to have a campus yet, just a location somewhere in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The problem is, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., Diocese of Trenton, already said he wasn’t interested in another private Catholic school in his diocese.

Today we received this release from the bishop:

I was approached early in my tenure as Diocesan Bishop to give permission to build an “all-girls Catholic High School” in Monmouth County. This was not the first time such a request was made of the Diocese although it was the first time I was asked.

After multiple conversations with those parties interested and very broad consultation among the principals, pastors and others concerned with Catholic education in the Diocese, I invited the interested parties to conduct a feasibility study which I then shared and discussed with those I had previously consulted. That the school be “Catholic” was not high on the list of priorities of those who responded in the survey and did not seem to be a compelling factor in its establishment. That such a school would harm enrollment in currently existing Catholic schools was a concern of mine.

The Canon Law of the Catholic Church requires the consent of the “competent ecclesiastical authority (that is, the Diocesan Bishop)” for a school to bear the title “Catholic school.” I did not give such consent or permission and so informed those interested in establishing the school. I was told by numerous individuals within the Diocese that those seeking to establish this new school were going to do so regardless of my consent or permission. And so they have.

The school’s founders are using the expression “in the Catholic tradition” to describe Trinity Hall. That is not the same thing as being a “Catholic school” and I simply want to make clear that this new institution is not affiliated with the Diocese of Trenton or our Office of Catholic Education.

I have been directly involved in works of Catholic education all my life as a priest. That individuals have the freedom to establish a school of whatever kind is not something that I question. People have that right and I bear them no ill will. That they call it “Catholic,” however, is subject to my consent according to Church Law and I have not given it. Catholics in the Diocese have the right to know that and I have the responsibility to tell them.

Bishop O’Connell is my bishop, and I like him a lot. He’s orthodox, smart, and no-nonsense. He’s also the former president of Catholic University, so his experience with education is extensive. Given what I know of Catholic education in this region (I’ve written about the subject for the National Catholic Register), I can understand why he didn’t want a high-end private school for girls with $16K+ a year in tuition. Its lack of oversight and approval from the bishop should be a concern for Catholic families considering it.

The World’s First Radiologic Technologist Was …

Sr. Beatrice Merrigan

… Sister M. Beatrice Merrigan, of the Sisters of St. Anthony. She took and passed the first exam to earn the first certificate from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

A radiologic tech deals with the patients and actually take the images, which at the time would have been early X-rays. Sr. Merrigan and her order were running St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City when she sat for the test on November 17, 1922. The test consisted of 10 films and 20 essay questions, and she passed with room to spare. You can see her written test answers here.

ARRT Update has more details on Sr. Merrigan’s test:

Several questions asked about the stereoscopic method for making x-ray plates. Others zeroed in on positioning of various body parts and radiation concerns. She earned the maximum five points on nearly half of the questions and got an uncharacteristic zero points on one: “What is the difference between primary, secondary and stray or indifferent radiation?” Her total score was 72, exceeding the standard of 60 by a comfortable margin.

The required films included hand, knee, shoulder, mastoid, frontal sinus, chest, pelvis, kidney, stomach – even a full set of dental films. She provided lots of actual patient information in each case: initials, age, height, weight, which wouldn’t fly under today’s HIPAA regulations. And she detailed technique: transformer, tube and screens used; developer time and temperature; distance, milliamperes and time of exposure. Grading was based on contrast, detail cleanliness and position. Just as today, her employer verified that she actually performed the procedures. Her films earned 66 points, 6 points over the standard.

Sr. Merrigan died at age 77 in 1971. Ninety years after she became RT #1, Oklahoma is one of the few states that doesn’t requiring licensure for RTs.

H/T: My wife and ARRT.