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PORTLAND, Oregon (LifeSiteNews) — After closing his Department of Catholic Schools, Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample has announced the appointment of a Director of Catholic Education on a mission to help save souls through authentically Catholic formation.

On October 10, the Archdiocese of Portland issued a memo naming Elias Moo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Denver, as a lead in the newly formed Office for the Mission of Catholic Education. Moo has been tasked with reforming Catholic education in western Oregon as Sample seeks to integrate schools “more deeply” into the mission of evangelization.

In a letter to the members of the Archdiocese of Portland upon his appointment as Director of Catholic Education, Moo declared that the Church’s mission of education “calls our schools to be ‘[sanctuaries] of education’ on a spiritual, intellectual, and moral rescue mission for souls.”

“This is the heart of the Church’s vision and mission for education: To provide an education that liberates,” [and that] gives the young men and women who the Lord entrusts to us, the opportunity to come to encounter and know Jesus Christ, the logos, the defining reason and principle of all things,” Moo wrote.

The Archdiocese of Portland highlighted Moo’s national recognition “as a visionary leader in the realignment of Catholic education with the mind and heart of the Church and [its] rich educational heritage.” With 16 years as an educator and administrator under his belt, Moo supports Catholic education faithful to the Church’s teaching and mission, as does Sample. 

The father of five helped pilot the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education’s credential program, according to National Catholic Reporter (NCR), and was a featured speaker at the group’s national conference. The institute promotes something akin to a “Christocentric” classical education, with a credential program “designed to replace the de facto need for state-approved licensure at Catholic schools across the country,” CatholicVote has noted.

As Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Denver, Moo oversaw the implementation of guidelines on gender and sexuality that affirm biology, the natural law, and Church teaching while denouncing gender ideology as harmful. He has also endorsed the Person and Identity Project, which aims to help protect children from gender ideology.

Ingrid Parmeter, an art teacher at The Madeleine, a Catholic K-8 school in Portland, told NCR she believes Moo’s appointment signals a shift in education “more aligned with pre-Vatican II mores.”

In Portland, one of the most liberal metropolitan areas of the U.S., there are a significant number of baptized Catholics who don’t see that as a positive change.

In January, Sample published guidelines for diocesan institutions, titled A Catholic Response to Gender Identity Theory, instructing schools to act and speak with students in a way that is in keeping with a person’s biological sex. While some praised the document, several principals and teachers thereafter resigned, and more than 1,000 people concerned about his guidelines signed a petition asking for a meeting between Sample and a small group of Catholics.

When news reports speculated that Sample’s closure of his Department of Catholic Schools was due to backlash over the gender identity document, the archbishop clarified that this was not the case, and that there are no plans to close schools in the archdiocese.