On April 15, the Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco announced the appointment of a new vicar for administration, Father John Piderit, S.J. Father Pideret will replace the outgoing vicar, Monsignor James Tarantino.
From 1993 to 2001 Father Piderit served as the president of Loyola University in Chicago. More recently he served as the vicar for finance at St. Patrick’s Seminary, and in 2013 he was appointed the school’s vice-president for administration, following the departure of the seminary’s then-rector and president Father James McKearney.
Among other publications, he is most recently the author of is Sexual Morality: A Natural Law Approach to Intimate Relationships. He the co-author, with Melanie Morey, of Catholic Higher Education: a Culture in Crisis; Teaching the Tradition: Catholic Themes in Academic Disciplines; and Renewing Parish Culture: Building for a Catholic Future. He has served as president of the Catholic Education Institute.
In his role as president of the Catholic Education Institute, he, with Morey, led the Substantially Catholic conferences, held in 2010 and 2011 at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, north of San Francisco. The conference was targeted at Catholic high school teachers and administrators, with the aim of helping them to “infuse Catholicism across the curriculum and in the school culture.”
The 2011 conference was covered by Catholic San Francisco, the newspaper of the archdiocese of San Francisco. The article was subsequently picked up by a number of Catholic outlets, including Cal Catholic. Father Piderit told Catholic San Francisco, “For teachers preparing to work in Catholic elementary or high schools, most offer little that is specifically Catholic.” He also observed that “when comparing Catholic schools of today with those of 50 years ago, schools are more tepid in presenting the faith even as American society has become more aggressively secular.
“Some of that can be traced back to departments and schools of education at Catholic colleges and universities which are so concerned with keeping pace with secular competitors and meeting ever-changing requirements for accreditation, that they are not teaching, or doing research into, ways to present Catholic faith and culture in subjects other than religion.
“The Catholic cultural component is relatively weak in our schools … It can’t be one comment once a year on something Catholic. Why is this so important? If you compare Catholic culture with what it was 50 years ago, the secular culture is more secular, less supportive of religion.
“At the same time, Catholic culture has become ‘much more gentle’ and ‘tepid.’ The goals of secular schools, private or public, and Catholic schools are very different. Holiness is the main goal for all Catholics, and the mission of Catholic schools is to educate them in the context of the Catholic view of the human person as a social being, an individual in relationship with others, ‘made in the image and likeness of God.”