Catholic schools get new advocate

by Deirdre C. Mays

CHARLESTON – Joan Silo is going to be very popular in school. She is the new mission advancement coordinator who will be helping Catholic schools find funds.

Silo’s position is new for the Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement. She will provide a direct resource to Catholic schools around the state, according to Michael J. Gocsik, the Diocese of Charleston’s secretary of stewardship.

“It’s no secret that our Catholic schools struggle to identify financial resources, and this position will help our schools achieve their financial goals,” he said. “A large amount of Joan’s time will be spent researching foundations on a national level and promoting Catholic education in the state of South Carolina.”

Silo started Nov. 6. Her task will be to identify and solicit donors and foundations interested in Catholic education. Catholic schools in the diocese have seen a dip in enrollment and increased operating costs over the last 30 years due to diminishing vocations and the resulting fewer numbers of religious educators. Gocsik said that schools are now faced with the burden of meeting their students’ needs but with less financial resources.

“The mission of Catholic schools is to be all-inclusive providing a just wage for teachers, a Catholic education for all those who wish, becomes a great challenge due to the financial realities of our times,” he said.

Silo has schools at heart. She taught theology for three years in Catholic schools in her native New Jersey. She is a communications graduate from Iona College who spent 12 years in business as a financial sales consultant. She was also active in her parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Flanders, N.J., serving on the advisory board, as youth minister and in fund raising.

“I have a great interest in the success of Catholic schools and am interested in the education of today’s students,” she said.

Silo plans to work with the schools on educational advancement efforts by pursuing funds through grant opportunities and working with them to enhance the effectiveness of their marketing, fund raising and community relations.

“I will visit with the schools on a regular basis and learn about their needs and priorities, and becoming an extension of their family,” she said.

She has visited six of the 27 diocesan schools in her first two weeks meeting with principals, school boards and development committees. Her initial focus, however, will be on three critical schools: St Martin de Porres in Columbia, St. Anthony in Greenville, and St. John in North Charleston.

“Teachers and administrators are spread thin, and they just don’t have the resources to pursue these opportunities,” she said. “The Diocese of Charleston is showing a wonderful commitment to the schools with this position. I am excited about the challenge.”