Portland Archdiocese: New Office Will Integrate Schools Into Evangelization Mission

The new Office for the Mission of Catholic Education will be launched in January 2024 and will be led by its new director of Catholic education, Elias Moo.

Books sit upon a desk at school.
Books sit upon a desk at school. (photo: Unsplash)

After shutting down its Department of Catholic Schools in June amid ongoing tension about policies related to gender ideology, the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has launched a new office focused on bringing diocesan schools more fully into the Church’s mission of evangelization.

“Our goal is to integrate our Catholic schools more deeply into the evangelizing mission of each parish and the wider archdiocesan Church,” the archdiocese said in a statement earlier this month, adding that the announcement is “an exciting and transformational new direction for Catholic education and Catholic schools in western Oregon.”

The new Office for the Mission of Catholic Education will be launched in January 2024 and will be led by its new director of Catholic education, Elias Moo. He will be relocating from the Archdiocese of Denver, where he currently serves as the superintendent of Catholic schools. 

“Elias is nationally recognized as a visionary leader in the realignment of Catholic education with the mind and heart of the Church and our rich educational heritage,” the statement read.

In a letter to the archdiocese accompanying the announcement, Moo said he knows “there is desire to know the plans and agenda for the future” but that the plan on the outset is to “get to know [the] community” and “spend time in prayer with the Lord, alongside Archbishop [Alexander] Sample, his leadership team, and all of you, asking the Lord to reveal to us his plans and his desires for the mission of Catholic education in western Oregon.”

Moo also emphasized that Catholic education needs to provide “the opportunity to come to encounter and know Jesus Christ.” 

“The Church’s vision and mission for education is not a model to be implemented or the latest trendy educational fad to be adopted,” Moo said. 

“It is our timeless charter and heritage, one that has withstood the test of time over many centuries and is handed on to us today, one that calls our schools to be ‘[sanctuaries] of education’ on a spiritual, intellectual, and moral rescue mission for souls.”

The closure of the archdiocese’s former Department of Catholic Schools in June came less than seven months after Sample issued guidelines on how Catholics should handle gender ideology. 

Part of the guidance included recommendations that “Catholic institutions should not endorse gender identity theory nor enable any form of gender transition whether social or medical.” 

Sample’s guidelines went further, recommending that “names, pronouns, facilities use, attire, and sports participation should depend upon biological sex identity rather than self-perceived gender identity.”

It also recommended that dress codes, locker rooms, and restrooms should be organized in accordance with the person’s biological sex, regardless of self-professed gender identity.

The archbishop faced backlash for the guidelines, which included a handful of principals and other faculty members resigning from their positions within Catholic schools in the archdiocese. 

The archdiocese says on its website that an “interim Catholic schools coordination team” is managing school affairs there following the closure.

In his letter to the archdiocese, Moo said he “desire[d] deeply to give you the best of who I am and what I have to offer, all which flows from a deep love for Jesus Christ, for his Church, and for the mission of Catholic education.”

Moo added that it would be a “great blessing” for the people of the archdiocese to pray for him.