by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “I hope I can be a conduit for the good work that’s already been established,” said St. Michael the Archangel, Leawood, parishioner Jane Rall.
As this new year begins, Rall has taken on the job of the School Advancement Program (SAP) consultant for the archdiocese, replacing Michael and Patty Morrisey.
She will be working with schools to implement a plan for board and business team development, fundraising, enrollment and sustainability.
The Morriseys are retiring after more than 16 years serving the archdiocese — first overseeing the expansion and growth of the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) and then founding and developing the SAP.
The couple began their work with the archdiocese after years of experience in the secular world.
“I did big business,” said Michael. “Patty was an educator and was also involved with the business world. Then, we owned small businesses.
“When we closed our last small business, we weren’t sure what we were going to do; but we were going to do something.”
The question of “something” was answered when the Morriseys were asked to help strengthen and build up the CEF’s ability to provide scholarships for Catholic education in underserved areas.
After 11 years, the Morriseys passed on the reins of a successful CEF and accepted the new challenge of pioneering the SAP.
“When we were doing CEF, we were giving schools money,” explained Michael. “With SAP, we’re helping them build a business infrastructure that will allow sustainability.”
That sustainability is based on schools following the SAP three-year plan.
“The first year, they help form a school business team,” explained Catholic schools superintendent Dr. Vince Cascone. “The second year, they do a signature event. And the third year, they really focus on enrollment management.”
Today, 10 schools that were once just surviving are beginning to thrive because of the SAP.
“Patty and Michael Morrisey have had a major impact on helping our schools be financially accessible to all families,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
“They have a unique set of skills in motivating people to become involved, in building strong boards,” he added, “helping our schools to function in a more business-like and professional manner in terms of their finances, and helping them to be successful in their development efforts.
“They will be greatly missed.”
Theirs are big shoes to fill, but Rall has an approach that’s grounded in her devotion to St. Teresa of Kolkata who said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
“I think that’s just a great way to live,” said Rall. “You can’t come in and solve a bunch of problems and challenges at once, but you can do small things every day to move forward.”
Rall will be moving forward with a wealth of experience.
She holds a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and has worked in both school and clinical settings. She has served on the board of the CEF and is currently serving on the School Business Team at Our Lady of Unity School in Kansas City, Kansas.
“We really wanted somebody to come in who could take it over and do a good job,” said Patty. “And Jane was like an answer to our prayers.
“She has a real passion for Catholic education and that’s why she was drawn to help Our Lady of Unity — that’s most important.”
The priority of the archdiocesan school office is to be of service to parishes and schools, pastors and principals. The SAP is an important way to accomplish that goal.
“Our Catholic communities are so good at working together along the common mission,” said Cascone. “The SAP builds that community around the school with the mission of helping that school succeed.”
“Schools change, enrollments change,” said Rall. “But if you have good business practices in place, then schools can focus most on what they’re set up to do — ultimately the goal of getting kids to heaven.”
The Morriseys worked with Rall through January, and then retired with the confidence that they have left the SAP in good hands.
Archbishop Naumann is in no doubt of that.
“Jane has a great passion for our schools,” he said. “I am confident that she can not only sustain what Michael and Patty have started but build on that to help strengthen our schools.
“Our biggest desire is not to let finances keep any child from our schools or any family from being able to send their children to our schools.
“I think Patty and Michael made a great contribution in that area, and I know that Jane will as well.”
For the future, Patty is content to finally have time to be a grandmother.
“We have a seven-year-old and a two-year-old granddaughter that live in D.C. that we do not get to see very often,” she said. “That was my reason for wanting to retire.
“We’ll have more time to spend with them while they’re little and watch them grow up more.”
Michael is on board to be a granddad, but retirement may not be in his vocabulary.
“I don’t see me as ever being done,” he said. “Whatever we do, we will look for ways to help others.
“That’s not grandiose; that’s just the way it is.
“That’s the way we feel.”
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