Q: Why is the transition of the canonical leadership from the Visitation Sisters to the Association of Christian Faithful happening and what does it mean for Visitation School?
A: As you may know, Visitation School is Catholic because of its governance by the Visitation Monastery, a canonically recognized entity. In 2002, the Sisters and their trusted advisers began exploring canonical options and over a decade ago established a succession group called the HOPE (Help Our Plans Evolve) Committee. The HOPE Committee through approval from the Church will now transition into a new canonical entity called the Association of Christian Faithful (ACF). Going forward, the ACF will maintain our independent, Catholic, Salesian identity by serving in the same governance role as the Sisters have always done.
Q: How will Visitation students and staff be impacted?
A: This change in canonical oversight will not have an impact on the day-to-day learning in our classrooms or the level of academic excellence Visitation students receive. The intent of the Sisters is to maintain our independent, Catholic, Salesian identity.
Q: Why is the HOPE Committee now called the Association of Christian Faithful?
A: While the people involved remain the same, including the Sisters, the Association of Christian Faithful (ACF) is a legal entity whose mission is to take care of the sisters and to protect their legacy, Visitation School.
Q: Who is part of the Association of Christian Faithful?
A: The ACF includes Visitation Sisters and those who have served on the HOPE Committee for the past decade: Sister Mary Frances Reis, VHM ’55, Sister Mary Paula McCarthy, VHM ‘47, Bill Brady, Anna Marie Ettel ‘63, Bob Gilsdorf and Brian Wenger.
Q: How is Visitation School governed? What is the role of the ACF in relationship to the school and the Board of Trustees?
A: The Head of School and administrative council lead the day-to day management and operations of the school. The Board of Trustees provides strategic oversight for mission and vision. The Association of Christian Faithful (ACF) will operate alongside the Board of Trustees as the Sisters have always done – providing the Catholic, Salesian identity of the school, making any final decisions on major changes to the direction of the school, including hiring the head of school and final approval of board members.
Q: How are members of the ACF chosen?
A: The current ACF includes individuals who were invited by the Sisters to participate with them. They have been working with the Sisters for the past decade and are trusted by them to care for their needs and carry their wishes forward. It has a similar governance structure to a board of trustees and has a succession plan in place that is aligned with the wishes of the Sisters.
Q: What does it mean to be canonically recognized?
A: For an organization to be canonically recognized it must have the approval of the Church and be established by the appropriate canonical entities. The Sisters intentions and years of planning are now approved by the appropriate canonical entities so the HOPE Committee can become the ACF.
Q: Are the recent changes in school leadership connected to the transition to the ACF?
A: We understand that some may question the timing of these announcements and want to underscore that these changes are all independent of each other. The ACF has the utmost confidence in school leadership and a strong working relationship just as the Sisters have had with school leadership.