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By Nancy Flory, The Stream, September 28, 2017
“I fell into Catholic education,” said former Swiss Guard and businessman Mario Enzler, in a recent interview with The Stream. Enzler didn’t plan to start a small school. He didn’t plan to be in Catholic higher education. The journey from Swiss banker to Catholic educator in the U.S. led him to answer his question: “Why does the Lord want me here?”
Falling Into Catholic Education
Mario Enzler with John Paul II
After finishing his doctorate in Milan, Dr. Mario Enzler served as a Swiss Guard to the Vatican for three years. He was not only a Swiss Guard, he was the conductor of the Swiss Guard Band. Following his time serving the Vatican, Enzler worked in investment banking and finance for many years. Enzler “fell into” Catholic education when he and his wife first came to the U.S. to be near his newly-widowed mother-in-law. They found the Catholic and parochial schools lacking. They wanted a Catholic education for their children, but what they found “basically didn’t really please us. What we found there really wasn’t Catholic education.” Public education wasn’t an option.
So Enzler and his wife started their own school. New England Classical Academy wants to teach “the pursuit of wisdom through beauty and goodness.” It offers a classical curriculum that includes Latin and Greek — and mock trials to teach the students to formulate arguments and think on their feet.
Then last year, the Catholic University of America (CUA) asked him to join the school of business and economics. The school wanted him to provide “applied theories,” as he described it. He prayed about it but was apprehensive since he didn’t consider himself an academic. “I’m a business guy. What if I’m not worth it to be in a classroom?” Especially a university classroom.
‘We Cannot be Afraid’
It was then Enzler remembered something Pope John Paul II said to him years before: “We cannot be afraid, because every single time we give victory to our fears we are giving energy to the Devil.” After more prayer, “It came to my heart finally why the Lord wanted me here.”
As a Swiss Guard, he was around priests regularly and knew no one trained them in administrative or managerial skills. He decided to do something about it when he got to CUA. He asked himself, “How can I help our pastors be successful?” His answer was to create a Master’s program in “Ecclesial Administration and Management.”
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The program trains priests in crisis management, budgeting and more. According to CUA’s website, the program uses “the proven best practices established in the secular business environment” to help clergy and lay leaders run Catholic institutions.
The program is “85 percent online,” said Enzler. Priests attend a week-long “boot camp” of sorts at the beginning of the class. They are then able to work online and finish up the class with a capstone project.
The Providential Capstone Project
The program has already been put to good use. The latest capstone project centered around a hypothetical hurricane and a bus full of missing children. The priests were required to discover and write about how they would work through the scenario.
Then, one week later, Harvey hit Houston where Father Joseph Doran lived. All of the students prayed for their fellow priests affected by the storm. When Harvey had subsided, Father Doran wrote Enzler an email. He was thankful for the class and capstone project because through the class, “without knowing, he got ready [for Harvey],” said Enzler. He added, “He was able to put in action immediately something that he had just had to work in fiction as homework, but all the things he had to do, he was able to apply them to implement them immediately after.”
Priests who are interested in the Master’s Program in Ecclesial Administration and Management at CUA can visit the websiteto learn more.
Nancy is an Associate Editor at The Stream. She is currently working toward her PhD in Strategic Communication and Journalism at Regent University. She’s married with four boys.