Vision, focus, and patience. Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D. has them all and has used them in guiding the Jubilee Catholic Schools through fifteen years of growth and success. In honor of his leadership, Jubilee’s annual fund will be named the Bishop Steib Miracle Fund. The fund will commemorate Bishop Steib and his enduring focus on serving those with the greatest need—children living in Memphis’ urban neighborhoods.
While education was not part of young Steib’s vision for himself as a proclaimer of God’s word (at the top of the list were appointments working in Africa or Mexico, living the rugged lifestyle of a missionary), Steib’s first assignment as a newly ordained priest was teaching in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. From 1967 to 1976, he taught Religion, English, Reading, and Social Studies at St. Stanislaus High School, an experience that helped cultivate his appreciation for the power of education. As a teacher, Steib says his focus was “helping the students to become young men who could think and discern God’s call for themselves.”
Jubilee continues this focus today, flourishing after its establishment fifteen years ago. In July 1999, Bishop Steib, announced that previously closed urban Catholic schools would be reopened beginning with St. Augustine in South Memphis. These schools were named in honor of the Jubilee year 2000, a year of grace and celebration, and are funded by the generosity for which Memphis is known. Tuition operates on a sliding scale with some parents paying as low as $50 per month. All parents contribute as a sign of their commitment to their child’s education, making Jubilee truly a hand up rather than a hand out. Parents also sign a Jubilee pledge, promising to attend church on a regular basis with their child and be an active participant in their student’s education.
In 2014, when Memphis Catholic Middle and High School joined Jubilee, the Network had grown to comprise nine schools covering grades Pre-K through Twelve. Over the years, the Jubilee Catholic Schools have grown not only in size, but also in renown, moving onto the national stage and earning the title “Miracle in Memphis” from the National Catholic Reporter. The Network has also served as an inspirational model for faith-based education and urban education reform, featuring prominently in President George W. Bush’s Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-based Schools.
In October of last year, Jubilee took its next big step forward with Bishop Steib’s establishment of a Network and Support Office poised to foster stronger connections and cohesion between the Jubilee schools. For the 2015-2016 school year, the Jubilee Catholic Schools Network is wasting no time in furthering the Bishop’s vision of providing a high quality education that combines the best of Catholic, faith-based instruction from the past with contemporary best teaching practices. In the upcoming school year, Jubilee will be the first school network in Memphis to adopt a year-round, 200-day school calendar—continuing the trail blazing efforts for which it’s known. With more time in the classroom and a focus on attracting and retaining talented educators, this promises to be an exciting time for the Jubilee Catholic Schools Network.
And it all started with Bishop J. Terry Steib, and a focus on the heritage of Catholic education: lifting up those most in need. For Bishop Steib, it’s always been about the kids. “My full attention,” he says “is on the kids. That they are the best they can be. That they can be a good Catholic, a good Christian, a good citizen, a good tax payer. That they can make a difference in our society.”
Jubilee’s annual fund, the Bishop Steib Miracle Fund, has been named in honor of Jubilee’s inspirational leader. Thanks to generous donors, the Bishop Steib Miracle Fund helps close the gap between what parents can pay and what it costs to provide an academically rigorous and vibrantly Catholic education that prepares students to be all that God created them to be, both today and tomorrow. The Miracle Fund will serve as a reminder of Bishop Steib’s vision and ongoing legacy along with the thousands of families and students whose lives are changed by the Jubilee Catholic Schools Network.