In the article entitled,
Next Casualty in the Post Conciliar
it was explained that the dilution of Catholic education
within homeschooling has become an alarming trend, thanks in
great part to the policies and actions of two interconnected
homeschool groups, NACHE
(National Association of Catholic Home Educators) and
(Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes).
Not only do
NACHE and TORCH favor "homeschool" sacramental guidelines in
each diocese, but they have been encouraging TORCH
homeschool chapters to approach their local bishops to
establish guidelines. NACHE has announced plans to form some
kind of ecclesiastically-approved International Catholic
Homeschool (ICH) association. Such approval necessitates
working in close union with diocesan bishops and/or
Cardinals, a totally unnecessary action.
The study of Church
documents will assist both parents and pastors in realizing
guidelines are not necessary. Homeschool
parents need not submit to them for the following
procreation and education of children is the primary end
of matrimony. The Sacrament of Marriage, one of the seven
bestowed by God through His Church, provides the graces
necessary to carry out the obligations of Catholic
parenthood. Since marriage and its obligations and rights
are already upheld and taught by the Church, no guideline
statements to that end are necessary.
policy statement, a set of guidelines, a list of
procedures, etc. are not official Church mandates. Any
guidelines can and ought to be studied by parents.
Policies, guidelines and procedures are not laws written
in stone (although some diocesan officials will try to
convince parents otherwise). However, like "sex
education" guidelines, "homeschool" policies are already
being used to favor the community's "rights" over
parental obligations. The usual end result is that a lay
committee controls homeschool children's access to the
Church teaches that the parish cannot monopolize or
enforce uniformity when it comes to catechesis. With one
exception, guidelines already in place basically do usurp
parental subsidiarity. For the sake of "community,"
guidelines claim that parents must use diocesan-approved
texts like the Benzinger series. Others insist or suggest
parents must allow direct oversight by the DRE (Director
of Religious Education), enter into a "written covenant"
between the pastor, and their child, attend weekend
retreats or participate in certain "liturgies." Parental
non-cooperation results in their homeschooled children
being denied the sacraments.
the big problem with guidelines is that what is actually
required is often tucked in between layers of
suggestions. In some cases, the word "required" is used
but the guideline itself is not in line with Church
teaching. Some guidelines are stated in such a way as to
appear like a commandment, like "Be involved," when in
truth this is only another suggestion. Parents must know
their rights - not only in accordance with state law but
also in natural and divine law.
appears to be "proof-texting" is showing up in some
sacramental guidelines for homeschooling parents and
a term most commonly used to explain what non-Catholics
do when quoting Scripture in order to prove their
argument against the Catholic Faith. Scriptural passages
are used out of context and given the wrong
in order to strengthen the proof-texter's personal
convictions against the true Faith. Catholics who know
about this Scriptural proof-texting method realize that
proof- texters are basing their beliefs on their opinions
of what Scripture means, not what God intends them to
if such proof-texting is used when referring to Church
documents during the writing of homeschool guidelines,
those same Church documents will appear
what a particular diocesan committee wants or decides it
to mean instead of what the Church intended. No lay
person, no homeschool study group, no diocesan committee,
no pastor, and no bishop or cardinal can lawfully do
The following reasons make
it clear than an international association which desires to
establish itself as a "juridic
wishes to do, will offer benefits to no one
the organization itself.
international association presumes there are other
national associations with which to network. There are no
national Catholic homeschooling groups in other countries
at this time.
relationship between homeschoolers and the Church already
exists. However, NACHE claims their own international
status would signify all homeschoolers' desire for a more
direct connection to the institutional Church.
Homeschoolers attend Mass regularly and many are
otherwise active in their parishes, clearly showing their
relationship to the institutional Church. No further
"expressions" are necessary.
a self-appointed organization mainly comprised of
converts and "reverts," in virtue of its expressed desire
to have some kind of juridic authority, also claims its
international status will give it the potential to become
or institution for homeschoolers
within the Church. This clearly shows NACHE's ultimate
aim to be the "official" Catholic homeschool organization
over all others.
authority could easily lead to abuse. Already, without
their desired pontifical status, NACHE
and its mother/sister organization
that those Catholic homeschool organizations and
individuals who do not agree with them are working
the Church." This
is a serious charge of schism.
study of NACHE's previous actions, including their
of clear and recent opposition by the majority of
to pursue pontifical status, indicate NACHE will continue
to represent its own
the following subtitles:
Mother's Watch Wallop
July 1998, NACHE's annual convention convened in Manassas,
VA. Homeschoolers, alerted by a Mother's
article exposing the partnership of two homeschool
Kris Stubna of Pittsburgh diocese
Keeler of Baltimore, MD,
filled one particular NACHE workshop to overflowing. That
workshop was given by Fr. Stubna in his talk entitled:
Pittsburgh Story: Working WITH Your
(capitals included in the actual title).
who authored Catholic
Vision of Love (CVOL),
education catechetical series,
admits he works with a Pittsburgh diocesan committee which
provides names and phone numbers of area Family Planning
Clinics. Less than two years before, NACHE's
others in Pittsburgh diocese, constructing homeschool
ran at least one ad for CVOL and responded to
by claiming CVOL
is a "family
life curriculum for Catholic
according to NACHE's newsletter
Mrs. Hahn's actions have been consistently defended by TORCH
in the person of her co-author Mary
who also holds leadership positions in both
All the while, Kimberly
Hahn and Mrs. Hasson denied
any knowledge of CVOL's contents. Now, however, as board
members of an organization which asked
Fr.Stubna to speak at the annual Catholic homeschool
convention, surely both
ladies have had ample opportunity to critique
the sex ed series.
however, neither they nor the homeschool groups they are
associated with have retracted their earlier defense of
chastity cloaked sex ed programs which they call "Family
both TORCH and NACHE have begun openly
those who question their new vision which equates doctrine,
dogma and discipline with diversity, divisiveness and
refute the Mothers Watch (MW)
chronological report providing the history of TORCH and
NACHE's cooperation in the formation of homeschool
a rebuttal in the May 1998 TORCH newsletter but
to ignore the MW article's background
the TORCH/NACHE leader turned a sacramental guideline debate
into an obedience
claiming the divisiveness over it has the capacity to "wound
the Church deeply."
A House Divided
Mothers' Watch article, which Mrs. Hasson airily dismissed
as "sheer fantasy," focused on the question of legitimate
authority behind sacramental guidelines. It offered an
abundant amount of "behind-the scenes" information on the
Catholic homeschool movement and the history of diocesan
guidelines for homeschooled children. Exploring the
connections and backgrounds of members of the Pittsburgh
home study task force, the article also critiqued Homeward
Bound, provided information on the 1994
Catholic Education Association) survey on homeschooling, and
the subsequent reactions of the Round
and CHSNA (Catholic Home School Network of
asked "The Convert Question" on modern-day neophytes
becoming Catholic experts while still new to the Faith,
focused on the April 1996 NCEA workshop on homeschooling,
and addressed Kimberly
involvement in the Pittsburgh, PA guidelines under
subsequent, tacit endorsement of the Catholic
Vision of Love series
brought up the issue of an officially approved national
homeschool curriculum, as noted in the Boise, ID
"sacramental" guidelines for homeschoolers. It further
disclosed the alleged collaborations between TORCH, NACHE
Keeler of Baltimore,
reported by homeschoolers who asked not to be identified for
fear of retaliation by fellow TORCH members.
the article written by Keeping
Marianna Bartold, Mothers
Ann Polcha and Judith Ammenheuser added their own
informative article entitled, "A Tale of Two Dioceses,"
spotlighting the sexology courses Bishop Wuerl and Cardinal
Keeler allow in their parochial schools. In response to the
information and chronological events provided, TORCH chose
to categorically disregard all the compiled facts offered by
Accuses - But Can't Refute the Facts
with factual errors, the article drew conclusions and made
insinuations that are nothing less than sheer
Mrs. Hasson in her written defense of TORCH and NACHE.
that basis alone, it deserves to be dismissed without a
second look." (6)
the mindset of the article that at one point appealed to the
issue of "the protection and support of homeschoolers'
rights within the Church," Mrs.
we as homeschoolers really meant to relate to our Bishops
and priests the way a hostile labor union relates to
as I know it is not in the business of usurping or denying
anything that is God-given,"
she further countered. "Nor
do I believe that the Bishops spend their time weaving webs
to ensnare and immobilize unsuspecting lay people. Where is
the faith of those who regard our Bishops as enemies? Where
is their trust in the institution Christ founded? Where is
their fidelity to the Church? And who ordained them to
pronounce on the orthodoxy of priests and of Bishops chosen
by the Pope?"
ended her discourse,
"As for me, I stand with the Church and invite those who
have chosen to be adversaries of the Bishops and priests of
our Church to
take a step for unity and come back to the
what Mary Hasson thinks of her father,
Charles E. Rice,
a long time adversary of the bishop-mandated sex ed in the
Catholic schools. In fact, Mrs. Hasson's father endorsed
Education: The Final Plague
is a balanced, scathing critique of Cardinals and bishops
who promote sex ed. Dr. Rice's endorsement reads with the
the following quote,
book is uniquely indispensable in documenting the harm
sex education does in public and Catholic schools."
article, entitled Homeschoolers:
A House Divided,
rekindled the national debate over diocesan sacramental,
homeschool policies and who is constructing them.
example, a quick look at the Pittsburgh homeschool "task
force" showed "homeschool father" Michael
was also an employee of the diocese as he was then editor of
the diocesan paper.
Aquilina wrote a freelance article for Our Sunday Visitor on
homeschooling and the book, Catholic
Education: Homeward Bound,
yet he focused primarily on Kimberly Hahn and neglected
co-author Mary Hasson. Mr. Aquilina has since become a bona
fide employee of Our Sunday Visitor, which also publishes
Pittsburgh's sex ed catechetical series Catholic Vision of
Love. Mr. Aquilina was recently given the editorship of Our
Sunday Visitor's New Covenant Magazine and has become
more involved with TORCH, even to endorsing a TORCH leader's
poor attempt to "Catholicize" the popular American Girl
series and advertised on the internet.
exposed that requests to be included in the study, expressed
by Pittsburgh area homeschoolers, fell on deaf ears. A few
articles by study group participant Michael Aquilina in The
Pittsburgh Catholic claimed the task force's goals were
provide homeschoolers with information and resources for
the teaching of the Catholic faith; to foster positive
relationships between homeschooling families, their
parishes, and the diocesan Church; and to address issues
in sacramental preparation." (12)
result was the sacramental guideline document entitled
Education in the Home,"
which were proclaimed a "model
for all dioceses." (13)
The document's list of names includes
Hahn, Fr. Kris Stubna, Michael
and his wife Teresa,
(Catholic founder of the ecumenical PA Home Education
Network). It also included large number of diocesan
employees, including Fr.
general editor and promoter of Catholic
Vision of Love
Superintendent of Catholic schools. Of the three
homeschooling couples on the task force,
did not reside in Pittsburgh, one had only a three year old
child, and another had ties with Aquinas Academy, a newer
parent-run school. (14)
Look at the Pittsburgh Story
bona fide Pittsburgh area homeschooling parents who
participated in all the meetings, resigned from the task
force at the end of the "dialogue" process. Their names do
not appear on the final Pittsburgh guidelines document, and
the Nypavers explain why.
Pittsburgh personnel reneging on an earlier agreement to a
diocesan-wide open meeting with any interested
homeschoolers, the Nypaver's reported the diocese used
Bishop Wuerl as the excuse. Although the bishop did not
attend one "dialogue" session, diocesan officials claimed
that such a meeting "would compromise the bishop's
authority," especially if homeschool parents were allowed to
review the guidelines before
addition, the Nypavers reported statements in the document's
final version were made without formal discussion, study or
verification from homeschoolers within the diocese. Yet the
statements in the Pittsburgh guidelines are presented as
thoroughly researched facts.
example, the document states "as
a whole [Catholic homeschool families] reflect the
Catholic population in general, varying in their practice of
home education movement is broad-based, and as it grows it
takes in more Catholic adults who are not attending Sunday
Mass and who may not be well-schooled themselves in Catholic
Finally, the Nypaver's said the diocese stuck to its own
outlined agenda, leaving no room for the introduction of
valid points, such as the reason why parents choose home
education in the first place. (16)
dialogue never happened,"
Nypaver claimed in an Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) article.
However, OSV - again, publisher of Pittsburgh diocese's
Catholic Vision of Love - was quick to counter that "even"
Dr. Mary Kay Clark of Seton Home Study School had a "warm
response" to the Pittsburgh guidelines.
Dr. Clark claims her words were taken out of context, making
it appear she wholeheartedly supported
don't welcome guidelines which can be used and will be
used to pressure parents," she
should be simple and not include excess verbiage. Such
verbiage could easily be used by DRE's and CCD teachers
and pastors who haven't read it carefully. Guidelines can
be used to pressure homeschooling parents to do that
which is not required, like attending CCD classes - which
include sex ed materials approved by the
homeschool groups which, like TORCH,
want to approach their diocese about guidelines, Dr. Clark
have to realize that, in most cases, they won't be seeing
the bishop, but the people in the Diocesan Office of
Religious Education. They must be careful who they send and
not allow themselves to be manipulated by these politically
prepared appointees. These homeschoolers are in a
because not only will it affect them but all homeschoolers
in the diocese. That is a heavy responsibility to accept.
They will have to realize many people won't like what they
did and won't like the results, and they might not be happy
with themselves in the long run."
Developing and Dangerous Situation
asking or being asked, Kimberly Hahn and the entire NACHE
board have clearly accepted the heavy responsibility to
speak for and represent homeschoolers nationwide. In April
1998, at the invitation of Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, MD,
the entire NACHE board (sans Mary Hasson) flew to Rome.
There they met the Cardinal, who accompanied them on their
It was in
Rome that Kimberly Hahn asked Cardinal Keeler his views on
an international homeschool association directly under
statutes. Kimberly Hahn reports the Cardinal replied
"enthusiastically" and that he immediately offered to
directly oversee a pontifical lay association for
homeschoolers. According to NACHE, they even broached the
subject with Cardinal Trujillo of the Pontifical Office of
the Family, who also responded
a result of our meeting this past April with Cardinal
Lopez Trujillo of the Pontifical Council on the Family,
we have decided to pursue status as an association of the
faithful," revealed the NACHE board in a letter to a
group of homeschool leaders. (18)
[Trujillo] enthusiastically encouraged us to
pursue this status, and his direct support is a strong
factor in our decision. While we have not worked out the
details yet, we expect to make progress towards
implementing this decision in the coming months."
progress of which NACHE refers to is the following of
recommendations received during "dialogue" with Cardinal
Keeler and his appointees.
Carries the TORCH
both TORCH and NACHE established their groups around 1992 in
Baltimore, MD and Manassas, VA, neither group showed any
public association or preference with Cardinal Keeler until
related note, according to Cardinal Keeler, Mrs. Hahn's
Protestant father approached him to join an "interfaith
" I was
talking earlier with Kimberly
said Cardinal Keeler at the 1997 NACHE Convention to an
audience of Catholic homeschool families. (19) "
Reverend Doctor Jerry Kirk,
is the national co-chair of the Religious
Alliance Against Pornography,
which is an inter-faith group. I've been honored to be asked
to serve as co-chair with him - to see if there is a way
that we, as people of faith, who are disgusted with the
spiritual pollution that comes with pornography, can work
effectively and make a stand. " He asked for support from
parents in this and said it "seems to work best" when we "go
city by city in an organized way, then community by
not only does Cardinal Keeler allow sex education in his
diocese, but he has developed a strategy to "wear down
Catholic parents who object to explicit sex education."
The Cardinal also turns a blind eye to "dirty dollies,"
specially hand-sewn anatomically correct rag dolls which
also feature working orifices.(21)
dolls are used to show kindergarten and first grade children
how to engage in various intimate acts.
Keeler also favors "horizontal inclusive
Fr. John Fessio, S.J. Cardinal Keeler also publicly states,
as he did at the1997 NACHE Convention, the idea that
Catholics must have "a new openness to world religions,"
adding that people must guard against "sins against unity"
and work "toward social juctice."
are incapable of dialogue," claim Baltimore parents
embroiled in years' battles with Cardinal Keeler's diocesan
schools for years. (25)
"Keeler is just like Bill Clinton.
All he cares about is money
He's like Clinton in that he thinks quickly on his feet. He
tells people what they want to hear. But he shows absolutely
no consideration for Catholics who hold traditional views,"
said one Catholic father in a Wanderer interview.
"He can lie
and stonewall and talk about 'common ground,' just like
Clinton does, but when a Catholic asks a question about any
of his policies, he might as well be excommunicated. There's
no dialogue. There's no more room for that person in his
Church," the father concluded.
diocese and the schools will not let parents be the primary
teachers," said Michael Karcher, who engaged in six years'
of correspondence with Cardinal Keeler and his appointed
representatives over the sex education New Creation series.
(New Creations features crudely drawn black and white
drawings of male and female genitalia at different stages of
development, including an obstetrician's view of a woman
during a gynelogical exam.)
this is the prelate that both TORCH and NACHE feels will be
open to homeschoolers, most of whom have rejected sex
education and the euphemistic "Total Quality" (outcome based
education) programs in private and public schools.
the Pope did appoint him Cardinal," said Rachel Watkins,
NACHE Board Member, in response to homeschoolers' objections
over Cardinal Keeler's invitation to speak last year. "And
we look at this as a wonderful opportunity to introduce him
to the idea of homeschooling."
saint," stressed Miki Hill, another NACHE board member to a
protesting parent. "I'm telling you, I know him! He's a
saint! You can't listen to that other side," she emphasized.
Presumably, Mrs. Hill was insinuating the "side" that points
out the cardinal's blindness to the immorality and the
values clarification classes with which Baltimore parochial
schools are permeated.
- the Sincerest Form of Flattery
confusion reigns now that two International Catholic
Homeschool (ICH) associations may be under construction. As
noted previously, NACHE informed some homeschool leaders
they would pursue some kind of international status.
The fact is
NACHE announced their plans on the very day another group of
leaders convened in Seattle, WA to discuss and possibly
found another international group of Catholic homeschoolers.
NACHE was well aware of the other group's intentions and had
been in regular contact with them.
estimated two hundred homeschoolers, in and out of the
United States, were contacted a mere three to four weeks
before the May 29, 1998 Northwest Catholic Family Education
Conference. These two hundred people received a special
nvitation to attend a post-conference dinner and meeting,
hosted by Ann and Michael Malone of Arizona, and Julia
Fogassy, conference coordinator and proprietor of Our
Father's House (a small homeschool business). The letter
bore the names and email addresses of the three initiators.
to a presentation made by canon lawyer Philip Gray at the
fall 1998 Round Table meeting in Tampa, FL, the letter
claimed the Malones and Fogassy were intrigued by Mr. Gray's
dissertation on the "discipline of the Church on
Associations of the Faithful. They offered a summary of his
talk and why they were interested in it. That letter also
invited homeschool leaders to either attend the meeting in
person or to submit a written statement on the pro's and
con's of an ICH association.
experience with homeschooling issues, Philip consistently
finds that parents do not use the resources of the Church
available to them," the letter continued. "Most parents
loosely affiliate with others and never seek any level of
recognition by Church authorities. As a result, when
conflicts occur, both internal and external, associations
usually do not have adequate structure to address the
begins a business without obtaining civil recognition places
the business in danger. It is the same in the Church. Canon
law makes it explicitly clear that no association can have
recognition within the Church without its statutes being
reviewed by competent authority."(27)
then divided the problems they felt Mr. Gray saw into three
basic groups: "First, no instruction from Rome exists that
specifically address homeschooling."
the absence of such instruction, bishops are left to their
own discretion in interpreting the disciplines of the
Church. As a result, concrete applications by bishops across
the world are as varied in each diocese
Catholic homeschooling parents are divided on many issues,
including the desirability of recognition by legitimate,
following paragraph surprised
not only homeschoolers, but the
priest to whom it refers:
John A. Hardon, S.J. has also specifically encouraged
homeschooling parents to draw up statutes for an
International Lay Association and advises that these
statutes be submitted to competent Church authority for
review. He believes this process could provide the
necessary grace and structure for the continued growth
and development of the homeschooling movement."
Not only did he know nothing of the Seattle based group's
intentions, he also
any knowledge that NACHE had gone to Rome or that NACHE
wanted to form an international association of
Fogassy, who initiated the Seattle meeting and who had used
Fr. Hardon's name in a letter of invitation, was alerted to
that effect by this writer.
up on the information Keeping
provided her concerning Fr. Hardon's statement, she found
the information was correct and publicly retracted her
earlier support for statutes and
for using Fr. Hardon's name
personally getting his endorsement. Claiming she had tried
to contact him without success, Mrs. Fogassy says she
"foolishly" believed Fr. Hardon's "silence meant consent."
Mrs. Fogassy still intends hopes to form or assist in
forming some kind of ICH organization for
to see Mrs. Fogassy's recent submission of a Solidarity
Pledge which has been endorsed by TORCH-- just weeks after
this article was published in Catholic Family
Hardon Says, "I Am Not Privy"
added his own comments. "I
been privy to the forming of any international association
said Fr. John Hardon in a telephone interview.
fact, you may say that I am not
by the NACHE board. You may also say I
was even told by NACHE
and the bishop's committee (National Council of Catholic
Bishops), that I
was not to be included in
meetings to discuss homeschool concerns."
is referring to a Washington, D.C. luncheon meeting between
a few bishops and NACHE in March
When he learned of the meeting and understandably expected
to attend as NACHE's spiritual advisor,
Hardon was told by NACHE
he would not be welcome.
"It seems I
still have some use as a mascot. They told me I'm only their
he commented wryly. "They
reminded me I'm not on the NACHE board, and they said only
the NACHE board could be at the bishop's meeting. You know,
I helped them found that organization but they voted me off
the board. That was a decision these so-called Catholics
made among themselves years ago."
questioned why he remains the group's spiritual advisor if
his counsels are ignored and/or disregarded, Fr. Hardon
replied, "I have a mission from the Holy See to catechize
parents and to work with homeschoolers. I still hope to be
of some influence to NACHE."
As for the
NACHE/NCCB meeting, no other independent homeschooling
organization was invited, much less informed about it.
However, Miki Hill of NACHE requested the presence of Dr.
Mary Kay Clark, known to be associated with the Round Table,
a group that NACHE has philosophically opposed throughout
McDade called me at the request of Miki Hill, after he had
called Miki Hill at the request of Card. Keeler," says Dr.
Clark, director of Seton Home Study School. "Cardinal Keeler
requested Msgr.McDade to set up the lunch with three bishops
on the NCCB Education Committee." Dr. Clark declined the
invitation, adding, "I don't know if the luncheon meeting
Keeler's office twice declined interviews about the March
1998 bishops' meeting or the international association
proposed by NACHE. Claiming time constraints could not allow
even a telephone interview, Cardinal Keeler's assistants
said they could not reply to questions about NACHE's trip to
Rome or the Cardinal's plans to sponsor their international
"curtain of silence" is exactly the same modus operandi used
when Pittsburgh guidelines were under construction with the
help of Kimberly Hahn and Michael Aquilina - total silence
from all participants and no dialogue with "outsiders" until
the "unveiling" of guidelines.
meantime, word of the Seattle meeting began to spread.
Homeschool leaders with email access corresponded with each
other and Mrs. Fogassy daily. The idea of an international
association was politely debated. A good many made it clear
they were not opposed to the authority of the Church or her
hierarchy but to abuse of that authority or the methods used
to assist parents.
the level of concern rose when it was discovered NACHE had
approached Cardinal Keeler to form their own "pontifically
recognized" association of homeschoolers. In fact, Mrs.
Fogassy had first promised Kimberly Hahn she would publicly
invite those who attended her Seattle meeting to consider
joining NACHE's efforts with Cardinal Keeler. After learning
Fr. Hardon did not endorse the proposal, however, she
reneged. She even wrote this writer via email, who she knew
was writing this article, to say she was trying to find a
way to gracefully withdraw her offer to Kimberly Hahn. On
the very day the Seattle meeting opened, NACHE sent a letter
disclosing their intentions to forge ahead with their own
this is an oversimplification," wrote the NACHE board,
" we might regard one group as believing that Catholic
home schoolers should work in close collaboration with
the institutional church, best
articulated by TORCH and NACHE."
(emphasis mine) (30)
the first time the NACHE board had
that they and the TORCH national chapters are closely
Cardinal Keeler, TORCH and NACHE feel they can dismiss or
"excommunicate" those who hold traditional Church teachings
dear. The following direct
the Catholicism of either other national Catholic homeschool
organizations or their founders was proclaimed
and Lisanne Bales
(fellow converts and friends of the Hahns),
Hasson, Michelle and Timothy Hill,
and Matthew Watkins.
All emphasises below are mine.
the other side you have the view that given the
in the United States, families will best [be]
able to pass on the faith if they remain apart from the
institutional structure, as articulated by CHSNA and the
[Keeping It Catholic]
It is clear
to see that NACHE did implicitly, if not outright explicity,
acknowledged there is some
problem with the "present ecclesial situation" - but failed
to outline whatever that "situation" is. Additionally, NACHE
totally ignored the teaching of subsidiarity, parental
obligations and the nature of marriage -
upheld by the Church.
It Catholic Website
those teachings, including direct quotes from Pope John Paul
II, previous popes, the encyclical Christian Education of
Youth and even Canon Law. (32)
again misconstrued the words and intents of fellow Catholics
when they wrote:
firmly believe that Catholics should not choose to
separate themselves from the existing lines of
hierarchical authority. The Bishops and Cardinals in
communion with the Pope are not a superfluous layer
within the Church. Some of the statements over the past
month indicate an unwillingness to adhere to or submit in
any way to the authority of the hierarchy in America--as
if the American hierarchy were somehow separate or
different from the Church itself. This attitude has the
potential to lead into the dangerous practice of each
person becoming an authority unto himself--deciding for
himself the "true" interpretation of Catholic doctrine
and rendering himself the authentic judge of which
or priest is to be obeyed.
With prayerful concern we encourage all homeschoolers to
reject this mindset." (33)
insistence on obedience vs. interpretation is ironic,
considering the organization's consistent
of its own spiritual advisor, Fr.
John Hardon, S.J.
Further, TORCH and NACHE might want to consider for
themselves the words of their board member Mary Hasson who
the good motives in the world - defending the Church,
preserving the purity of our children - don't justify
slandering or imputing bad motives to those with whom we
Will (or Will Not) Serve!
continued, "We expect that some homeschoolers, priests, and
current leaders in the Church will disagree with our
decision. We respect their right to disagree and presume
they are motivated by the same love for God and His Church
that we are. Our intentions are simple--to be faithful to
the Church, to work within the Church, and to serve
homeschoolers in whatever way we can. We invite like-minded
Catholics to do the same." (35)
completely dismissing the expressed concerns and objections
of other Catholic homeschool leaders (local, state and
national), NACHE's very words belay the fact they wish to
"serve homeschoolers in whatever way" they can. Further,
they disparage "like minded homeschoolers" who disagree with
NACHE with one of two methods.
is to proclaim any given homeschool issue one in which
parents are free to disagree, while at the same time
articulating their hope that those who oppose NACHE share
the organization's purity of intent, love of the Church, and
faithfulness. The second tactic is one in which the
association turns the debated issue into a matter of
obedience. NACHE appoints itself as the final arbitrator on
such issues, refusing to answer any further questions of
those who do not agree into which camp the issue was placed.
were used to establish sex education in the Catholic
It is clear
that TORCH/NACHE aligns itself with the most influential
names it can, using those names to their own best advantage.
Fr. Hardon's name
as a respected theologian gave the organization time to grow
stronger in reach and influence. Kimberly
was asked to join the board around the time she
Bishop Wuerl's diocesan committee. Now NACHE, with the help
of Kimberly Hahn, approaches Cardinal Keeler while actively
cooperating with the American Church hierarchy's modus
operandi. TORCH and NACHE's mission of late seems to be
convincing homeschoolers that the "bishop
only wonder what is the two groups' official view to the
bishop's pastoral letter Always
so-called pastoral letter defends homosexuality. That is
absolutely, utterly, totally anti-Catholic."
also ignore the reality that they
are the main cause of the divisions in the homeschool
movement. This is best illustrated by NACHE's history of
consistently refusing to acknowledge or collaborate with
other homeschool groups - besides its own mother/sister
group, TORCH. Though two separate legal entities, the
TORCH/NACHE associations share a "cross-pollenization"
(36) of board members, a fact that NACHE disregards
as "a situation not uncommon in the corporate world." Both
openly proclaim the same philosophy of uninformed, blind
obedience, push a message of "unity and charity," and close
ranks against other Catholic homeschool
example, Mary Hasson was seen and overhead as she personally
approached Bishop Bruskiewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, asking
him to construct homeschool guidelines in his diocese. She
made this attempt after a homeschool conference in which she
was invited to be a speaker. Homeschoolers in the area were
shocked that she neglected to even consult with them. She
simply acted on her own perceived authority as a TORCH and
NACHE board member.
It could be
that TORCH believes if they can begin a public dialogue with
a conservative bishop like Bruskiewitz, the criticisms
leveled at them for interference will decrease.
show a penchant for disregarding facts, using known and
respected names to promote their own agenda, attack those
who defend the Church's teachings ignored by some prelates,
cry for obedience to bishops, and, when closely questioned,
claim they are "just homeschooling mothers" who don't have
time to fight off "false" allegations against
Keeler is a well-known name that NACHE clearly believes can
foster the organization's growth. However, knowing now that
the majority of homeschool leaders will protest their
alliance with Cardinal Keeler, NACHE may very well attempt
to extricate themselves from previous arrangements made with
the cardinal. Instead, they may pursue sponsorship with
another prelate who won't bring forth such a strong
NACHE may find that Cardinal Keeler is not like Fr. Hardon,
S.J. who suffered in silence for years as they ignored his
advice. Charismatic and benign as the Cardinal may appear,
he is a primate of the United States and could very well use
his own influence on any bishop they may choose to replace
complicate NACHE's difficulties if they should hope to
withdraw from any previous agreements with the Cardinal,
NACHE board member Miki Hill has been part of a task force
in Baltimore to institute homeschool "sacramental
guidelines." Mrs. Hill and her husband recently resigned as
TORCH's co-directors for many reasons, including time to
pursue "other apostolates to which the Lord has called
The Hills' TORCH resignation coincides with NACHE's decision
to publicly pursue the "apostolate" of either a pontifical
or private international association of or for
information from the TORCH/Baltimore diocese meeting was
revealing. It was reported that Cardinal Keeler said he
would like to send students for which there is no room in
parochial schools to homeschoolers, in order to "to elevate
homeschool parents to the status of Catholic schools."
Cardinal Keeler did not mention that marriage was elevated
to a sacrament by Our Lord Himself, with all the graces
necessary for parents to educate children religiously,
civilly, morally, academically, etc.
addition, the Cardinal insisted he needed "vocations,
vocations, vocations" as well as teachers, principals and
catechists in CCD programs - trained in the new Catechism
and using materials approved by him. Claiming that
homeschool parents have a vocation as teachers, he further
stated such parents should be teaching in his CCD
Two Groups Become One?
the two ICH proposals may very well merge forces. In a
letter shortly before the May 29th meeting in Seattle, WA,
the following email message was distributed among
the responses from TORCH and NACHE, I know that someone will
do what we have proposed," wrote Phil Gray, canon lawyer at
CUF. "There may even be more than one group. This should be
welcomed. I do not believe it necessary that only one
association exists. That would limit the Spirit's movements.
(emphasis ours) We have one Church, and she recognizes unity
who works and moves in the same mileu as the Hahn's in
Steubenville, OH, and was simply a consultant, used the word
"we" when answering questions or concerns. He was absolutely
correct that "TORCH and NACHE" would "do what we have
"I know you
have done well to keep out of the political muck as much as
you have been able," he encouraged Mrs. Fogassy. "We
(emphasis mine) need to keep doing that. It may be that the
meeting will produce several groups that will simultaneously
seek approbation at different levels and with different
bishops from different countries, etc. That should not be
seen as opposing each other, but rather enhancing the life
of homeschooling and helping each other."
reading your responses and knowing your desires, I know why
God chose you to start organizing this," Mr. Gray flattered
Mrs. Fogassy. " Don't fool yourself, this isn't too big for
you, because you have God on your side (not to mention me
and a couple of crazy Irishmen in Arizona)," the latter
being a joking reference to Mrs. Fogassy's collaborators,
the true aim of the ICH association was never made clear
among all the leaders participating in the Internet email
forum. The discussions touched upon many aims for the
organization such as seeking "pontifical" status which would
have the organization report to Rome under a cardinal or
bishop, founding charitable works, collecting donations,
building up unity between the dividing lines among
homeschoolers, "feeding the sheep" by offering spiritual
help to others, or even becoming some kind of lay religious
agenda or purpose was agreed upon before the May 29th
meeting convened in Seattle. Further, the sole fruit of the
Seattle gathering was to send one of their participants, Mr.
Paul Brazier of the St. Joseph Foundation of Australia, to
meet with NACHE board members Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson
in Steubenville on June 4, 1998. On the spur of the moment,
CHSNA (Catholic Home School Network of America) board
members Katie Moran and Virginia Seuffert joined the
result was an agreement to give Kimberly Hahn of NACHE time
to obtain from Cardinal Keeler his exact vision of an
international association for homeschoolers. It was decided
NACHE would announce its further plans after holding their
board meeting, which was held the same weekend as their
annual homeschool convention. (39)
leaders are now in a state of flux. Some remain convinced
nothing will come of the ICH organization. Others prefer to
remain mute as they await Kimberly Hahn's and Cardinal
Keeler's next step. Still others, not privy to the email
communications, know nothing of the NACHE/Keeler
collaboration. And there are those who believe they may have
to capitulate to NACHE in order to survive and homeschool in
some semblence of peace.
grass-roots homeschooling Catholic parents continue to live
their daily lives, unaware that a handful of self-appointed
leaders are even now making unilateral decisions for them.
Those decisions could very well affect today's children and
a generation yet to be educated, whether at home or in the
1 M. Bartold,
Catholic Family News, June 1998, Cover.
2 M. Bartold,
Mothers Watch, Spring 1998
Payne, The Catholic Home Educator, Michaelmas
4 Mary Hasson,
TORCH News, April 1998, p.2
Bartold, Mothers Watch, Spring 1998, pp. 1-9
6 Ibid, p.
7 Ibid, p.
9 Ibid, p.
Engel, Sex Education: The Final Plague (Gaithersburg, MD:
Human Life International), back cover)
Aquilina's endorsement can be viewed on the internet at
Aquilina, The Pittsburgh Catholic, July 12,
Homeschooling parents who wish to read the Diocese of
Pittsburgh's guidelines for catechesis or for sacramental
preparation, or the instrument for evaluation of
catechetical materials, may find copies at the Learning
Media Center at St. Paul Seminary. Parents who wish to buy
copies of these documents may do so by contacting the
Secretariat for Education at (412) 456-3100.
op. cit, p. 7
Kramer, Catholic Homeschoolers of PA Newsletter, July/August
17 Our Sunday
Visitor, October 5, 1997
Letter of May 29,1998
"Homeschooling in the Heart of the Church,, NACHE 1997
Likoudis, The Wanderer, May 25,1995
21 Ann Polcha
and Judith Ammenhauser, Mothers Watch, Spring 1998, p.
Fessio, S.J., Catholic World Report, January 1996, p.
Audiotape, op. cit.
Likoudis, The Wanderer, April 20, 1995
Likoudis, The Wanderer, March 6, 1997
27 Letter of
April 25, 1998 from J. Fogassy/A. Malone
Email Letter of May 29, 1998 to Leaders
32 Keeping It
Catholic Website at
33 NACHE, op
34 Hasson, op
35 NACHE, op
tape, October 1994 RT, quote from Lisanne Bales of
37 TORCH News,
May 1998, cover page
Conversation with Katie Moran, CHSNA president
39 Email of
June 7, 1998 from Julia Fogassy to Leaders
An edited version of this
original article appeared in the July 1998 issue of
Catholic Family News
Reprints of the edited
article (and subscriptions) can be ordered by calling
Catholic Family News,
MPO Box 743
Falls, NY 14302
Family Ministries, Inc.
Falls, ON L2E-6V5
Without mentioning the veracity of Keeping It Catholic's summer reports, NACHE has confirmed information earlier provided via the KIC network. The NACHE organization finally announced their plans to attain Church recognition as a lay association of the faithful, with Cardinal Keeler acting as their sponsor.
In the Michaelmas 1998 issue of their newsletter, The Catholic Home Educator, NACHE wrote it was their intention that "we might be a bridge, working with the hierarchy and assisting homeschoolers." NACHE also verified Keeping It Catholic's summer 1998 reports that they had met with bishops this past spring, that Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, MD had volunteered to sponsor their organization, and that their board flew to Rome in April.
There was, however, no mention of their spiritual advisor, Fr. John Hardon, or his participation in any of these events.
While NACHE continues to insist that guidelines are a "mixed blessing," and starts to build its bridge, one must ask:
Since NACHE continues to insist there are no problems between homeschoolers and the hierarchy, why do we need a bridge?
Why does NACHE continue to insist that those who do not agree with their views are in opposition to the Church?
Why do they feel free to excommunicate others who do not agree with them? And if they do so this now, what are they capable of if they feel they have Church recognition?
NACHE also claimed in their recent newsletter that they "look forward to continuing and enriching the strong relatiohships we have built with other homeschool leaders...We welcome the inquiries and suggestions of all homeschoolers - help us serve you better!"
Yet NACHE continues to ignore KIC's private, concerned, and charitable attempts at communication. NACHE chooses not to answer privately, but publicly they issue vague "damage control" statements in their newsletter, speaking of "detraction" and "criticism." KIC sadly notes that NACHE board members continually show themselves not open to any true communication, much less any "dialogue" process.
Keeping It Catholic totally opposes NACHE's pursuit to become "the" Catholic homeschool organization that decides it shall be the liason group between Catholic homeschooling families and priests, bishops and cardinals. As KIC has shown on our other website pages, no real benefits are to be seen but the
potential for abuse is far too great.
NO to NACHE.
As foreseen by KIC and other homeschoolers, NACHE recently endorsed and published the "Pledge of Solidarity" in their latest issue (Michaelmas 1998) asking all their readers to "abide by its principles."
Incidentally, TORCH - the group that is associated with NACHE but continues to deny it except to admit that they both share Mary Hasson on their two boards - earlier
published and endorsed the same "Pledge of
Solidarity" allegedly submitted by Julia Fogassy of Our
Father's House and her associate Katherine Eames.
"Pledge" was released exactly one week after a "deadline
date" in July, 1998 -- which coincided with the annual NACHE
convention. It was also the date that NACHE was to inform
CHSNA, which allowed itself to be lulled into an attempted
"dialogue" with NACHE, whether or not they would
continue their plans to work under the direction of Cardinal
Keeler. The negotiations were later cut off when it became apparent that NACHE was only interested in silencing any opposition to their actions.
interesting of all, the "Pledge" appeared just a few weeks
after the article above was printed in the July issue of
Catholic Family News. It must be noted, however, that Mrs. Fogassy, one of the two women who submitted the pledge to the homeschool organizations TORCH and NACHE, has recently responded to Keeping It Catholic's Mrs. Bartold. Mrs. Fogassy claims she is not in favor of the kind of international association NACHE is currently purssuing.
and the Hierarchy
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