My postsecondary education began at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Its collegial atmosphere helped me discern my calling to be a priest.
The seminary’s doors opened in 1845, in response to an urgent need for clergy for German Catholic immigrants. Construction of the main building in 1856 marked a significant advance in the school’s mission. The campus now occupies 70 acres of woods on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Notable features include the Salzmann Library, which contains some 80,000 books on theology and canon law; members of the public, as well as students and parish volunteers, may use its services. The on-campus print shop serves the needs of local churches; proceeds go toward educating seminarians. A retreat house provides a natural setting for meetings and overnight stays; the facility sleeps 36 and features a private chapel and conference rooms.
About the author: In 2010, Cardinal Stritch University awarded Father Thomas Maikowski its Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Distinction.
A priest and former US Air Force chaplain, Father Thomas Maikowski has more than four decades of religious service under his belt. Those serving as chaplains, as Father Thomas Maikowski did, often are called on to help individuals in the aftermath of tragedy or disaster.
In the wake of the recent shooting, the Diocese of Orlando in Florida has extended assistance to family and loved ones of the victims. It has served as the “hands and feet of Christ” in practical ways, such as offering grief support, taking care of funeral Masses and burial arrangements, and offering financial assistance in some cases.
Within hours of the shooting, bilingual staff members from Catholic Charities also made their way to downtown Orlando, setting up at the Hampton Inn to provide a safe meeting place for family and friends of victims, as well as offering translation assistance. The effort was facilitated in part by Deacon David Gray of the Orlando Diocese as part of a pastoral response to the tragedy.
A good number of the victims were Latino, hence the need for translators to help facilitate support and counseling with the families and loved ones. Other local Catholic churches and charity organizations are continuing to provide support and assistance as well.
A Catholic priest and former chaplain for the U.S. Air Force, Father Thomas Maikowski has supported educational efforts at the parish level. During several years as the director of a Catholic preschool at the parish where he served, Father Thomas Maikowski began noticing an upward trend for Catholic preschools and their increasing enrollment.
Despite the dropping numbers of weekly church-goers and diminishing confidence in organized religion, preschools administered by religious institutions continue to grow. As parents become increasingly aware of the importance of a solid formation for their three and four-year-olds, they often choose Catholic preschools, which seek to develop children at a cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual level.
According to one study, enrollment in Catholic preschools has risen over 450 percent since the school year of 1982 to 1983. The study also notes that 17 percent of those enrolled come from non-Catholic families.
Both Catholic and non-Catholic parents appreciate the level of involvement required by Catholic preschools, which want parents to remain part of their children’s education. Additional benefits include the supportive atmosphere and commitment to development of the whole person. These and other benefits continue to support an increasing enrollment in Catholic preschools.
A retired member of the United States Air Force, Father Thomas Maikowski oversees religious services as administrator at a Catholic parish in northern Arizona. Through his roles as an educator and priest, Father Thomas Maikowski has served as a leader in the Catholic community for several decades.
In the midst of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the US, the national population of Roman Catholic worshipers is slowly declining. A recent census conducted by the Catholic Directory listed 68.1 million people as practicing Catholics. However, studies have shown that over the course of more than three decades, attendance at Catholic churches and schools has decreased overall. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of Catholic Americans has declined from 23.9 percent to 20.8 percent.
At the same time, the number of foreign Catholics in the US has risen over the last several years. A recent PEW survey found that Hispanic Catholics now make up 34 percent of total Catholics in the country. Moreover, the number of all foreign-born Catholics has increased from 13.2 million to 21.5 million in the last five years alone. Specialists believe that these changing demographics may benefit the Catholic community in the near future.
Father Thomas Maikowski is a Catholic priest who attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools during his youth. A parish administrator and director of a preschool in his parish, Father Thomas Maikowski is a strong advocate for Catholic education.
According to education industry statistics, the number of 4 year olds in all U.S. preschool programs has risen from approximately 127,000 in the 1960s to more than 2.7 million by 2013. In a research article entitled “Reaching the Youngest Hearts and Minds: Interviews with Diocesan Leaders Regarding Catholic Early Childhood Education” Dr. James Frabutt of the University of Notre Dame and Rachel Waldron of the Archdiocese of Chicago note that this surge in early childhood education enrollment provides opportunity for Catholic schools to reach more families.
According to Dr. Frabutt’s and Waldron’s 2013 survey of 15 archdioceses and dioceses across the country, an average growth of 20 percent in Catholic preschool program enrollment had occurred over a five-year period. The research found that the areas surveyed administered 498 preschool programs, which served 20,139 students during the 2011-2012 school year. The majority of the preschool programs (452) were affiliated with existing elementary schools while only 46 programs were classified as standalone preschool programs in parishes that did not have elementary schools. Overall, 80 percent of elementary schools in the archdioceses and dioceses sample had preschool programs.
The fact that many Catholic preschool programs are part of a larger Catholic elementary school makes tracking growth within early childhood education difficult to achieve. For example, the National Catholic Educational Association’s “United States Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools 2014-2015: The Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment, and Staffing” notes a nationwide Catholic elementary school enrollment of 1,359,969, but does not separate out preschool numbers. Likewise, the report counts a nationwide total of 6,568 Catholic schools, of which 5,368 are elementary schools. However, the survey does not report on how many of the 5,300-plus elementary schools offer preschool programming.
The director of his parish preschool, Father Thomas Maikowski is also the administrator of a parish in a diocese in the southwestern United States. Committed to his local and religious communities, Father Thomas Maikowski is involved with a number of charitable organizations, including the Missionaries of Charity and the National Catholic Educational Association.
Among the many resources it provides, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) sponsors the Monarch Rescue Schools Grant for schools that take part in the multi-organization efforts of the Monarch Rescue Program. To support the dwindling Monarch butterfly population, the NCEA accepted grant applications from Catholic schools in the butterfly’s migration route to plant gardens that will cultivate their habitat, create learning modules to engage students and the community in the project, and incorporate Catholic teaching on the importance of environmental engagement.
For its inaugural grant year, NCEA awarded grants to 10 schools throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. As part of the grant, the schools will also monitor the effectiveness of the gardens and respond to issues in subsequent years.
Father Thomas Maikowski became a Catholic priest in 1976 in a Catholic diocese in southwestern United States . He studied theology and philosophy at Saint Francis de Sales College. Father Maikowski has spent more than 25 years as a reserve chaplain in the United States Air Force, which has awarded him several medals for his service.
The Air Force has recently come under scrutiny by right-wing conservatives for advertising for new chaplains in an Islamic magazine. The Air Force responded publicly that it does not “endorse any one religion” and that the Department of Defense “provides free access of religion for all members of the military services.”
Chaplains do not serve in any military capacity with the Air Force, instead functioning as visible reminders of faith and providing ethical, moral, and religious counsel to airmen, officers, and their dependents. Chaplains come from various religions and represent the diversity of religious belief among American fighting forces. They stand as examples and defenders of the freedom to worship without persecution in the United States.