Gerald M. Cattaro, Ed.D., executive director of the Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education and professor at the Graduate School of Education, was appointed by Pope Francis as one of two new consultors for the Congregation for Catholic Education on April 25.
“I’m very humbled by the recognition of Pope Francis,” said Cattaro. “It’s a recognition of all the work we do at the Graduate School of Education and the University with our national and global partners. It’s also a great responsibility because we have to safeguard the mission of Catholic education.”
The Congregation for Catholic Education is a pontifical organization that promotes and organizes Catholic education across the world. In his new role as consultor, Cattaro will offer policy recommendations for the global Catholic school community. Cattaro is the first layperson from the U.S. to be appointed to the position, and he is one of two consultors from the U.S., in addition to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, said Cattaro.
Cattaro has more than 30 years of experience in preparing Catholic school leaders, from principals to superintendents to deans. He also serves on several national and international governing boards, editorial boards, and educational commissions.
At Fordham, he runs the Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education, which has trained educators from multiple faith-based schools and organizations for more than three decades. In 2019, he helped host the World Congress of Catholic Education, a global conference that brought a thousand delegates from Catholic schools worldwide to the Lincoln Center campus, and the fifth International Scholas Chairs Congress, an international conference that united more than 100 scholars on campus to discuss how education could promote social change. Cattaro is a Scholas Occurrentes ambassador who oversees the three designated Scholas Chairs in the United States—at Fordham, Minnesota University, and John Carroll University.
In 2009, Fordham News profiled his work on revitalizing Catholic schools. Before joining Fordham, he served as a principal for 18 years, a high school teacher, and a junior high school teacher.
There are more than 200,000 Catholic schools across the world, said Cattaro. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 6,000 schools and 1.7 million students, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.
“We have a lot to be proud of, especially with the number of schools that we have,” said Cattaro.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new issue for Catholic schools across the world—simply maintaining them, now and after the pandemic has passed, said Cattaro. Many Catholic schools generate most of their income through student tuition, and thanks to the coronavirus, schools across the world might face lower rates of student retention and admission, he said.
“We’re going to have to put a seatbelt on next semester,” said Cattaro. “We’ll have a lot to work on.”