A Catholic Education for Every Catholic Kid

This is the beginning of a series of columns written to help Catholic parents make solid educational choices for their children by comparing and contrasting various ways for families to give their children a Catholic education.  The presumption of the series is quite simply that we, as Catholic parents, are primarily responsible for giving our children an education that includes the essential ingredients of Catholic teaching no matter where they learn their ABC's and 123's.   Throughout the series I will use specific references to schools or situations in the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, where I currently live.  I do this because, just as every public school system will be different in every town, so will each diocese have different Catholic schooling options, and different regions will have more or less support for home schooling.  I am including specifics because the specifics are what each family has to consider when making educational choices: the needs of their specific child or children, their specific work, their specific extended family, and the specific school systems within their specific region of the country.  All of the educational choices my husband and I have made, and are still making, for our children are very much in light of our specific, geographic location as well as our ideals about how provide the best education possible for our children.

During the first weeks of our home school year, I always write this definition on the board: "Discipline is remembering what you really want."  By writing this, I invite my students/children to pause and think, "What is it that I really want out of this year of school?  What is going to keep me going when I don't feel like finishing a math assignment or writing a book report?"  Stickers, special privileges, and good grades can be the immediate, external rewards, but the long-term reason for learning — what a student really wants — cannot come from either a parent or a teacher.  The reason for this is that what each of us really wants is a question of internal motivation, not external enforcement.

As Catholic parents, charged with providing our children with 12 to 16 years of education, we also have to ask ourselves "what we really want" as it relates to educating our children.  What is the biggest purpose for which we are educating our child?  Good grades?  A good job someday?  Good athletic, music, or art programs?  How about good friends and eventually a good spouse?  What about the non-intellectual, social, and religious aspects of an education?  Because our children's school environment profoundly impacts our family life, and because autumn is the time for open houses and entrance exams for next year's school enrollment, I have compiled some thoughts on the educational choices available to Catholic parents.

 First, I want to state clearly that the most important things our kids need to know are primarily learned at home and are being taught all the time.  The quality of our children's formal schooling is of secondary importance to the quality of our children's home life.  Having said that, I must also say that I believe every Catholic kid deserves a Catholic education.  I believe that giving our children an authentically and thoroughly Catholic education is at the core of what God and the Catholic Church ask of us as parents.  I think it is a necessity, not a luxury, but if you disagree with me, please don't stop reading just yet.

If you have previously thought that the only way to give a child a Catholic education was to enroll him in a Catholic school, you'll be happy to know that there are other options.  On the other hand, if you have previously thought sending a kid to Catholic school or to CCD was all you needed to do as a parent to give them a Catholic education, you may be surprised to learn that this is no guarantee.  Here's why; we parents are responsible for their faith formation, not a school or a teacher.

When we asked to have our children baptized by the Church as infants, we promised before the  gathered assembly to be their "first and best teachers in the ways of the Faith."  As our children's primary teachers in spiritual matters, we are responsible for three areas of Catholic knowledge: heart, hand, and head knowledge.  First, our children need to be introduced to our God who loves them.  Second, they need to be shown how to love him back.  Third, they need to be taught about Church history, doctrine, and prayer.  They need to know Scripture and to hear stories about the saints, heroes, and villains associated with Christian faith.  The basic idea behind the Catholic school system is that all three of these would be taught in a synchronized way and strengthened until they become the spiritual backbone of a well-formed Catholic adult.

A generation or two ago, many Catholic parents were able to turn to parochial school systems for help in living up to their baptismal promise.  Today, not as many parents are able to draw on this valuable resource.  If we cannot access the help of a good Catholic school system, we will need to be more disciplined ourselves about investing time and energy in educating their hearts, hands, and heads in all things Catholic.  Over the next few columns, I will explore ways that we Catholic parents can remain true to our baptismal promise no matter where our children learn their ABC's and 123's.

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  • Guest

    First of all, the title to the story should be: A Catholic Education for every wealthy catholic Family.  My Parish has a lot of wealthy people and if you look at the parking lots before Mass or School begins, you will see why.  I understand that what students really want, cannot come from a parent or teacher, and when are people going to stop saying that the most importmant things our kids need to know are primarily learned from their parents, we already know this.  You also say that every Catholic kid deserves a Catholic Education, what about our Bishops and Pastors, do they think that our kids deserve a Catholic Education?  I think not.  I do believe that God is asking us as parents to give our children a Catholic Education, however, why isn't the Church helping these parents besides CCD.  I saddens me that when articles are written like this, They never get to the truth of the matter, which is the Catholic Church and Schools are all about Money, how much you make, and how much you can give, what about Faithful Catholic familys asking for help and getting it for once.  May God help us all.

  • Guest

    Markpro, I'm going to ask you to reserve judgment on the series of articles until you read further.  I agree that the parochial school system no longer serves the laity well.  But I expect that Heidi will be offering many suggestions for overcoming the difficulties created by that sad fact.

  • Guest

    I'm willing to let this series of articles play out, but based upon this first one, I have a few observations:

    1). Sending you children to a Catholic school does not necessarily mean they will get a "good Catholic" education. This is especially true as students get into the secondary education years and almost always true at so called Catholic universities.

     

    2). Catholic schools were really the only choice 20-30 years ago and beyond especially for large urban cities. In many suburban areas, the public schools besides taking large chuncks of your taxes also (at least in my experience) do a good job in educating children. In fact, my public school district is quite strict in terms of the behavior and academic requirements. As Heidi indicates in her article, we as parents have primary responsibility for the religious education of our children, which is also supplemented by the CCD program.

     

    3). I also must raise the issue of costs of a Catholic school education. My oldestw ent to Catholic High school and the total 4 year cost was $35,000! (BTW, this was not an "exclusive" or prep type school, but actually representative of the costs for most other Catholic High School's in this area). Having 3 other coming behind him and of course trying to figure out how to pay for college simply meant that we could not afford Catholic school.

  • Guest

    I could be wrong, but I don't think Heidi equates "good Catholic education" with "parochial school" or "Catholic school".  Please take note, she HOMESCHOOLS her children.  I suspect she is going to give us some fantastic ideas about how to be the primary teachers of the faith AT HOME no matter where and how our children go to school for their ABCs and 123s.

  • Guest

    Ipioch-thank you-good point; it will be interesting to read the series and see if it is something that can be accomplished.

  • Guest

    My husband and I removed 2 of our 3 children from Catholic schools after 12 years. Our oldest graduated from Catholic High School last spring. It deeply saddened us to do so but we felt we had no choice. These schools were no longer Catholic. So many parents used them for the status of a "private" school rather than the true purpose a Catholic school. We could no longer justify sending our kids there. They both attend public school now the 7th grader goes to our Parish school of religion and I homeschool sophomore religion for the older one. 

    It was a very hard decision but we feel the right one. It is easy to explain to our children why kids act a certain way in a public school setting. It was much harder to explain and except the same behavior and worse from Catholic School Families when school leaders even priests look the other way for fear of being politically incorrect or offending someone. Or worse losing a big donor.

  • Guest

    Not sure on how this series will turn out but to piggyback on the previous posts I must comment that speaking from this catechetical wasteland called the Archdiocese of New York my three children graduated as Catholic eunuchs even with my teaching. I mourn that I should have been more vigilant.

    The back up just isn't there from curriculum to reading assignments. Catholicism should permeate every subject. It does not.

    And the money? – fuggedabotit.

    I may be a radical but I say we forget about every other endeavor in every parish whether it be AIDS, crime, even teen pregnancy and funnel all resources into making the Catholic educational sytstem right and making it affordable for every Catholic instead of ruining the schools then having to close them along with Churches as we have done here in New York.

    When we do that we will produce more good Catholics and these other problems will be taken care of by future volunteers who love our Lord.

    Oh, and God forbid you send a child to the "average" Catholic college. That experience will just finish them off.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of Heidi Bratton's series.

    Your brother in Christ,

    AndyP/Doria2       HOSEA 4:6    Yonkers,  NY

  • Guest

    I send my children to a great parochial school.  We supplement at home – but we should.  That is our job.  I am tired of reading all the attacks on parochial schools.  Fix the problem where you live so more children can benefit whose parents don't know/can't teach them. We all have a responsibility to educate each other in the Church.  Attacking schools instead of fixing them, when neeeded, doesn't fulfill that responsibility.

    I am interested in seeing how I can apply this article to my home – but not in hearing more attacks on Catholic schools. 

  • Guest

    It seems to me that this is not an article about Catholic Schools (or homeschooling) at all, despite the picture.

    It is an article about, as Heidi says, ways that we Catholic parents can remain true to our baptismal promise no matter where our children learn their ABC's and 123's.

    In order to live out our own baptism (parents) and fulfill our duty to our children, we need to remember what baptism is.  One facit is that all baptized were baptized into the Priest, Prophet, and King roles of Jesus.  Therefore, living out our baptism means living out those roles.

    The Image of God series of religious ed books, Ignatius Press, were the first place I ever saw this topic explored in depth.  I now have an understanding of what living out those roles mean.  I teach the same to my kids in a systematic way and through the events of our lives.

    When a child shares the last piece of cake, I remind them that they are acting out their priestly role by offering sacrifice united to Christ.

    When we travel around in our 15 passenger van–fully loaded with kids and pro life bumper stickers, I remind them we're living out our prophetic role by teaching God's truth and spreading His message about life in the culture of death.

    When a child pours a bowl of cereal for a sibling, I praise them for living out their kingly role of service to others for Christ's sake.

    Trying to practice the above is also a way for me to live out my daily offering of myself to God.  In the process of teaching my children, I am being sanctified.  I think that is one of the reasons God gives parents children: they help us grow in Holiness.

    Truly the family is a "School of Love"  (JPII)

  • Guest

    I do not wish to attack Catholic schools I cannot express the anguish my husband and I felt when we made the decision to leave the Catholic schools in our area. We went to Catholic schools ourselves. We found it increasingly harder to supplement at home when it was not being reinforced at the Catholic schools are children were attending. I could go into the details but I will say this much, many of the basic values in the catichesim itself were being violated.

    Some situations can only be changed when people leave. Otherwise those in charge do not recognize the need for change. Both schools we pulled back from  suffered a large enrollement loss this past school year. Because of this I pray for change. There are many ways to change a situation sometimes by staying and sometimes by leaving. Above all it must be a healthy environment for the people who choose to stay. In our situation it was not healthy to stay. I wish with all my heart that it had been. That is not an attack that's just the way it is.  

  • Guest

    Yes, the image was an unfortunate choice and last night, just after 1AM my time, when the site refreshes, I sent an email to our graphic articst and asked him to replace it. Hopefully he will get to it in the early part of today.

    I really do ask all of you to reserve judgement here as lpioch suggested, because you will find that this series is very realistic about the various circumstances we all face.

    Elkabrikir, thanks for those great examples — I am going to look for opportunities to let my grandchildren know when they are being kings, priests and prophets!

  • Guest

    These days the bar is set very low for Catholic schools. Personally I don't expect them to teach my kids much. That is OK, I will do it. My only issue is when teachers disrespect the faith as they "teach" it. They can say so much with their attitude. Often what comes accross is that they don't believe this stuff is true. It's OK to have a strong faith but really intelligent people have a different kind of faith. One where we just laugh off scripture, tradition, and the magisterium. It is teachers like that who I think do the most damage.

  • Guest

    I echo many od Doria2 sentiments, although I was happy with St. Peters grade school. It was run by 2 Italian nuns, they did a great job. St. Paul HS was O.K., while the college should have called itself Holy Lacrosse. We also did homeschooling and public schools. Of course parents must catechise but most Catholic parents don't know enough. I know some who teach CCD and deny certain tenets of the faith. This is a problem, there's faulty information being dissiminated and priests and bishops are oblivious to it. It's all changing and in this time of flux we the faithful can have real input. The nuns and the priests are no longer there to do it for us.

  • Guest

    In Canada we don't have to pay surplus for our children to attend Catholic schools or as they are known here to be part of the seperate school board.

     The reason that most parents send their children to Catholic schools is so that they will have an inkling of religion taught to them, or at least the basics taught to them. … I know for a fact that the teachers teaching the supposedly Catholic religion to our children are for the most part not even practicing Catholics themselves and are just there to follow the curriculum given to them. … It certainly does not mean that our children are getting even the basics of their religion, and as proof of that, I represent our parish in preparing the children for  their First Communion and I just recently left because I was appalled at what the teacher and the responsible for these kids was telling them. … That so called responsible person was telling these kids lies …. and when they did their first communion none of these kids knew that what they were about to receive was the Body of Jesus. …. They were told that they were receiving a piece of bread that represented a meal. … That's it! …. And as usual, our priest did nothing to enlighten these kids either.

     So, I guess that YES we must as parents educate our children about their religion and we can't put this responsibility on anyone else, not the teachers, not the priests, but we have to do it ourselves. … It is very unfortunate however, that for the most part parents that call themselves Catholics don't know the first thing about their own religion and so, how in the world can they teach their own children? … It's a vicious merry go round that starts where? and ends where? … Who do we blame first? …. Let's listen to this series and see if anyone of us can do something to better our children and our school system and maybe, just maybe, enlighten our priests as to what their responsibility is in all of this.

  • Guest

    I have become frustrated with Catholic schools because of the lack of teaching of what is really important.  But I do not put the blame on our schools, because in reality it is the parents job to educate their children.  It is not the Governments job, it is not the Churches job, it is solely the parents job.  That is a God given responsibility to us parents.  We see a huge influx of anti-christian teaching within the schools both Private, Church and Government schools.  Our schools have been trying to take up the role of the parents without success.  One example is with the teaching of Morality issues, our schools our forced to teach issues that should be left to the parents.  Unfortunatally, us parents are too busy with our jobs and daily life to effectivelly fulfill our God given responsibilities.  We have become selfish and our Churches and Schools are just catering to our own selfishness.  We want our Schools to do our job.  Well guess what, it cannot be done.  When God gives us a task, he means for us to fulfill it.  Our children have been given to us, not to anyone else.  And they have been given to us because that is what God intended to do.  That we should have children is the direct Will of God for us.  And us parents have the direct responsibility in their education and their salvation.  Homeschooling is a wonderful thing, not too many years ago homeschooling was considered an evil word.  But I say every single parent should be homeschooling thier children.  Even if they send them to a public or private school they must still homeschool their children in the important issues like Morality, Church teaching, ect. 

  • Guest

    I teach 8th grade faith formation at my parish.  I teach 24 kids!  I wrote a letter to the parents expressing my joy and trepidation over the grave duty they had delegated to me in teaching the truths of the Catholic faith, faithfully, to their children.  I also asked each parent to write me a brief note telling me what they want for their child out of my class this year.  In other words, what is their expectation of me.

    Well, shock!, not one parent has emailed me or sent a note to me!   So, here I am preparing their kid for Confirmation next year with 10 kids of my own and 30 weeks pregnant!  And They are too busy to even write me a note telling me what they expect out of me!

    As I explained to my 8th graders, "you are only as honest as your actions".  Those kids have learned a lot about faith formation and the duty of parents toward their kids.  I wonder if they'd throw a pair of NFL tickets in the trash!  Frankly, given the example of the parents, I doubt I can teach them much in 75 minutes a week!  But I try to live a hopeful life, so I"ll show up next Sunday filled with zeal for Christ and His church and a plate of cookies or muffins!  (A good way to the soul is through the stomach….is that biblical?)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  • Guest

    We know that the problem is in the home, for now that's not where the solution is however. Most of this generation of parents have not a good Catholic education so what can they teach their children? As you point out  Elka., they're perfectly happy to pass off this responsibility. You are part of the solution. The faith instruction positions need to be populated by people of faith, orthodoxy and concern for the future. This is where the laity can make it's best impact.

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir, it's time for you to lie down dear — you are making the rest of us tired!

  • Guest

    This is an interesting subject on many fronts.  Let's talk money first.  It is obvious that Catholic Schools are not "public" (paid for using public funds), so that is why we have to pay.  What does it "cost" a public school student to attend?  Theoretically, that's what it should cost a private school student.  Here in Portland, Oregon, we just settled our abuse claims for millions and millions of dollars.  Therefore, the Church has money to subsidize (better than they are) a student's tuition.  This should be a top priority.

    Secondly, not all Catholic schools are created equal.  Some promote Harry Potter books like they're totally harmless.  Others have weak or non-existent catechsim.  Choose you schools well.  Or you can open your own homeschool "school" with like-minded parents and co-op the instruction.  Be creative and don't settle.

  • Guest

    goral,

    Regarding the fact that many parents are ill-informed of the Catholic faith…I still think it is futile to focus solely on excellent teaching in CCD and schools.  If the children do not see it in the home, it is all for naught (except for the grace and the seed planted that hopefully one day will bloom).

    I think the only viable solution, at least for the next 20 year period, is an extreme catechesis of ALL ages under 60 (and not need to stop there).  And speaking of money.  Either the diocese doesn't have the money for such support or it doesn't want to spend the money for such support (I honestly don't know which it truly is).  I think this has to be a grass-roots effort – MAXIMUM at the parish level…if not just the good rank-and-file faithful starting something in their own homes reaching out to anyone they can regardless of their parish.

    This is how you and I become real soldiers in the battle.  In action (after prayer and sacrifice, of course!)

    Once children who are well catechized become parents, the focus can shift back to the up-and-coming adults…that is…those under 22.   :-)

  • Guest

    I'm looking forward to reading the series of articles as it will be good food for thought.  Regarding the most effective way to transmit the Faith intact to your children, so that it not only goes into their heads but into their hearts as well, I recommend a book by Steve Kellmeyer titled "Designed to Fail" (that is, the Catholic School system was designed to fail from the beginning).  His basic premise is that throughout the 2000 years of Christian history, the faith has been transmitted within the family, not dependent upon schools.  Once the Catholic school system was established in force in the past 125 years, its unfortunate result was that it gave the parents a false sense of security by letting someone else (the nuns) teach their children their catechism, thus taking away the main teaching responsibilities the parents have – teaching the faith to their children.  Perhaps the collapse of the Catholic school system is a wake-up call by the Holy Spirit to us parents to know our faith (head) and live our faith (heart) so that we can, by the grace of God given to us in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, hand on our faith to our children so they will have the love of God in their head and hearts (Kellmeyer states that this is one of the main graces of Matrimony, and the gift to teach our kids their faith cannot be substituted by a nun, priest of bishop).  I applaud elkabrikir on teaching the 8th graders, as i've been in that situation in the past, but unfortunately if their parents are not living their faith, then normally it will not take root in the kids' hearts and minds and souls (of course this is the norm, there are exceptions as we all heard of the person who had no faith at all and was converted on the spot by an exceptional grace of God - so hang in their elka and pray for some exceptional graces for your students!)  

  • Guest

    I understand the viewer who suggests that we parents change our local Catholic schools instead of complaining about them. I truly understand, and I truly tried. Eventually, though, we had to homeschool our youngest. Change was just not happening.

    I'll share some examples:

    - A priest announced to my 3rd grader's class that Adam and Eve never existed. "And," he said to these little ones, "if your parents say they did, then they don't know how to read the Bible."

    - A year-long scrip program was touted to parents as a way to keep tuition down. I was a volunteer who called my set of parents every month to encourage them to buy scrip "to keep tuition down." The funds were then spent on computers for the teachers, and tuition was raised.

    - Spelling books were thrown out in favor of teachers creating their own spelling lists. The 2nd grade teacher opened a children's dictionary and started with aardvark; by the end of the school year the children had just reached "E." To this day, that now-adult child cannot spell because she wasn't taught basic, 2nd-grade spelling rules.

    - Textbooks from our state are FREE if you use state-approved books. Our Catholic school thought this was a great way to save money. That meant that ALL subjects were strictly secular, except for religion.

    - The fifth grade sex education book, while published by a Catholic publisher, included a side bar about homosexuality. It told these FIFTH GRADE students, "If YOU are attracted to members of your own sex, then YOU are homosexual" [emphasis mine]. These were ten year olds, most of whom still think the opposite sex has cooties.

    These are but a few examples. What is tough to convey is the attitude of my children's schools that they were in charge of my children, and that we parents were a complete nuisance. In the end, this attitude wore us down, college tuition absorbed our income, and we gave up.

  • Guest

    I think the "process" needs to start with priests during the only forum they usually get before a large, captive audience:  the Homily.

    I'm disgusted by the MANY and diverse priests whose first action of the homily is to place their watch on the ambo, tell an internet joke, and then give some type of sometimes meaningfull reflection on the scripture.  Where is it written that homilies can only be 12 minutes?  Give me a break!  I believe people are hungry for meaningful homilies that encourage, enlighten, and yes challenge them to holiness.

    In an earlier post I wrote about the priest, prophet, and kingly roles.  I've NEVER heard a priest talk or teach about them!  How are we expected to know what it means to live out our baptism?

    In response to a different article I said the bishops need to be giving better example of teaching by fasting and praying publically.  Also,they need to mentor priests so they can have clear expectations and give better homilies.  It is possible to preach effectively to large parishes.  We just need zealous and holy priests to do it.  And we laity need to pray and sacrifice for that cause, too.  Get back to basics, indeed!  Evangelizing the people with the Good News is the central purpose of Chritianity…."go forth and teach all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

    In addition to the homily, Eucharistic Benediction is certainly a basic.  My DRE is a simple, holy woman on fire for love of Christ and His church.  She instituted, with the support of the priest, a monthly 10 minute Benediction service during faith formation instructional time. All the traditional prayers will be used and  the Eucharist adored by children who might otherwise never be brought to such an opportunity for grace and instruction.  (I never knew what Benediction was until I was in my 30s! Sad to say)  No textbook or teacher could ever teach what a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament can infuse into the soul.  Perhaps this is a suggestion one could pass along to one's DRE or priest or bishop.

    All it takes is a mustard seed and a little yeast….before you know it, we'll have a hot pretzel smeared with mustard, not quite heaven on Earth but approaching it!

  • Guest

    Mkochan, she won't stop…….. I'm grateful for that. We need some fire to encourage us to fight for the faith on every front.

  • Guest

    Just thought I'd throw in my own experience.  I started homeschooling 5 years ago because of the poor catechesis that was going on in my parish school and down right heresy being taught by our parish priest.  I tried for years to help bring in better books but it was shot down by our RCIA director who was given the last word on the subject.  We even had an open day where parents could come and look at different Catholic book series and give an opinion.  About 95% of the parents liked the "Faith and Life" series,  which I was trying to get in.  But we were told we were not "qualified" to make that decision.  I let them know that I was "qualified by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony to know what was best for my children as all parents are.  Since I had always wanted to try homeschooling so we jumped in totally relying on God's grace and help.  We enrolled in Seton Home Study School and jumped into 5 different grade levels the first year!  It was so difficult but my children worked all summer to finish, they loved it.  I know they work harder now than they ever did in school, but not one would want to go back.  They appreciate the truly Catholic education they are getting and just growing and learning together.  We stay involved in our parish and support our parish school where ever we can.  But I could not wait for the school to straighten up at the cost of my childrens formation.  I think homeschooling is always an option even if you  do it only part time to supplement.  There are some great programs out there!

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir,

        It's unbelieveable that not one of those parents had the courtesy to respond to your note, or the interest in their children's catechesis.  Very sad!

    Claire

  • Guest

    Catholic schools are worth fighting for!  I have nothing against homeschooling, but it is so sad to see too many good Catholics complaining about a weakness of their Catholic schools, and then giving up.  Why?  Your Catholic schools are worth fighting for. 

    The teachings of the Church on Catholic schools is very clear.  We are to support them.  A great Catholic school can touch many, many lives.  Please do NOT abandon weak Catholic schools – fight to change them.

  • Guest

    I am happy with the Catholic School that my children attend as well. As for the cost – yes, I certainly wish it was more affordable or even free because every child who wants a Catholic education should be able to obtain one.

    I, however, do not know how to fix that. I serve on our Parish Council and I can assure you the school is not a money-making venture. All tuition goes to paying the teachers their meager salaries and upkeep of the buildings. Unless we can bring back the days when there were religious sisters willing to teach for free or have equally committed lay volunteers, tuition is a reality. I once figured out that every family in our parish would need to contribute $300 a year to have our school be free. While that would be wonderful and give the whole parish ownership of the school, I don't see that happening. 

     

    We do, however, need to come up with innovative ideas in order to restore our Catholic school system to the wonderful educational and faith-based institutions that the religious orders that founded these schools intended them to be. 

  • Guest
    Thanks, gadjmljj–we've had a similar experience with trying to help our DRE and our school principal.

    Overall, I see a lot of generalizations in many of the comments posted… every parish has a different dynamic–some good, some not, but I'm not going to use my children to try to change something that takes a long time to change.  Catholic schools are NOT for just the wealthy, though it does take a sacrifice.  But homeschooling can be done on the cheap, and thanks to eight years of educating my children at home, I have learned more about our faith than I did from any catechesis I'd had in the past.  If a parent doesn't really care about the faith, but sends the children to Catholic schools because, usually, the education is better than at the public schools, you are not going to have a group of supportive parents behind you if you want to see the faith embraced.  They don't want it.  I tried that fight already, and had virtually NO support.  However, I've met devout (and large) families through homeschooling that not only provide my children with great peers, but provide me and my husband with like-minded friends.  We invite our priests to dinner and gatherings, and they blossom in an environment that embraces the Catholic Church and her teachings completely.  These poor priests get hammered by the run-of-the-mill Catholics who do not want to be told that what they are doing (divorcing and remarrying, contracepting, sterilizing themselves, even aborting their children) flies against the face of the Church, to whom we are to be obedient.  

    Bottom line:  it is our responsibility to continue learning and growing in the faith and in our prayer life, and passing that on to our children.  You can do it with children that go to school, even public school, but you have a LOT of damage to undo every single day, and we just got exhausted by it all.  Even if the teachers are fantastic, you can't count on all their classmates to be a good influence.  We support our Catholic schools in many ways, but we can do that without sending our children there.
    Give your priests positive feedback for the things you like (i.e. "great homily today–thank you!" or "I love it when you sing the doxology; it adds such beauty.") and encourage others to do the same.  THEY are the ones who need our support. Invite them to dinner in your home.  Remember them at Christmas and on their birthday.  They often feel very lonely and unsupported, especially in a climate where the laity seems to want to take over everything.  They deserve our respect, no matter what.  Over time, they will see that you are trying to be faithful and will respect you for that, and then you'll see some nice changes, though slow, taking place.
    Keep on praying!
  • Guest

    DonnaMaria,

    ditto to everything you said.

  • Guest

    Of all the days to read such a wonderful article!  We, too, pulled our children from a "Catholic school" once we found out that sex ed was mandatory.  It was not only mandatory, the teacher became enraged (yes, was shouting at me), when I sent a note requesting my 10-year-old daughter be exempt.  That was the last straw!  I won't even go into the mutiple parties, field trips (to the movies), picnics (two in one week), watered-down religion, ecology worship, diversity training….

    They now attend a Greek Orthodox School which is very formal and STICKS TO THE BASICS!!!!!!!! That's what Catholic schools have lost:  The basics:  reading, writing, 'rithmatic and good old fashioned religion. 

    To make matters even more interesting, I also registered at a new parish.  Reason?  The pastor has supported our homeschooling CCD in the Faith and Life series.  Obviously, this was a horrid idea when I spoke with the CCD coordinator at the same church.  Do you know what she said?  What about "community?"  What does "community" have to do with learning about the Roman Catholic faith?  These liberals couldn't care one bit about learning the true Catholic faith as long as we are part of the "Diverse community!" 

  • Guest

    Community is a byproduct of people working together toward the same goal.  The more worthy the goal, the more challenging the course, the more easily community will emerge.

  • Guest

    It is remarkable that one of the wealthiest countries during one of its greatest economic booms can no longer afford Catholic schools.  How can it be that Catholic schools thrived throughout the depression but are suddenly no longer worthwhile during economic excess.

    It's a problem of faith.  There is not a lack of money to fund our Catholic schools, their is a perceived lack of need.  It's a problem of faith.  There are diocese that have little to no tuition.  It should be the same everywhere.  The biggest danger to Catholic schools is allowing them to become private schools for the rich.  Don't let it happen.

    I re-iterate, I have no problem with home-schooling.  Most local homeschoolers here do an excellent job.  But they do not have a corner of the parenting market.  Many of the Catholic school families have exceptionally well-parented families as well.   

  • Guest

    Greg,

    You seem to have nailed the lid on the coffin.  (And i"m not saying you're wrong.)  If it is a problem of faith (and it is), then how can we keep our children in what's failing?  Do you see it as POSSIBLE that the faith aspect can be addressed within just a handful of years? 

    If it is not addressed within just a handful of years, are we not using our children as guinnea pigs to try and work within the system to see if we can fix it?

    Don't get me wrong.  I am not against Catholic schools.  I have 2 in right now.  And for their elementary years, I have the approach of "just don't contradict me, and we will get along" frame of mind.  HOwever, once they hit middle school, there's just got to be a more fervent faith component.  Otherwise, it's all just clanging noise.  If I can't change the problem of faith in just a handful of years…what risk am I running keeping my children in a LUKEWARM environment?  There's fervor at home.  Is that enough?  This is what I'm anticipating regarding this series.  Is that enough.

  • Guest

    Since the Catechism came out – change is in the air.  Our Bishops have finally entered the fray and have given guidelines from the Catechism as to what is and is not acceptable as textbooks.  The ship is big and will take time to turn, but it can turn.  It will take time. 

    The greatest asset of any Catholic school is good Catholic families with good Catholic children at the schools.  The "real faith" is very attractive.  Although we encounter people within the Catholic schools that have little to no interest in the faith, we also encounter good Catholics and others that are in fact quite attracted to the faith.

  • Guest

    Here is a couple quotes from the 2nd Vatican Council that you don't read everyday:    “The Council reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible; of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children.”

    “This Sacred Council of the Church earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially in caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived of the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of Faith”

  • Guest

    And you should not judge DonnaMaria.

  • Guest

    Greg,

    I've read that VII verbiage somewhere before — could you please give the document and paragraph for those quotes?

    Thanks.

    PTR!

  • Guest

    Our first four children went to Catholic Schools with number four in graduate school now.  BUT we began Seton Home Study of our 10 year old daughter last year and could not be happier with it.  Our first year cost just $500 for all books, teacher plans, testing materials and support. (older grades require some additional materials at some cost) They are firmly Catholic based and stress the basic skills we want for our child.  Right now she is at three different grade levels in different subjects and when tested last year was in the 95th percentile or better in all areas.  Flexibility has allowed me this year to begin studies in Latin which is not only fun for her to hear in church, but will help her understanding root word origins as vocabulary advances.  For 'Socialization' she is involved in theatre (which is free) and has been in three musicals.  We do pay for lessons in dance, drama & childrens choir, but those are nominal in our town.   

    I teach Sunday School.  I can tell you that many many children have been spiritually neglected by their parents and grandparents.  The faith is NOT being taught.  It MUST come from the home, and is not automatically transferred from generation to generation in the genes.  And it is not just an old fashioned thing they did years ago.  And it cannot be superglued in place by CCD teachers. 

    (I'm sorry this is so long)

    Last thought.  When Catholic Bishops failed to keep Catholic Schools affordable for parish's,  they also (along with the decline of prayer in families) added to the lack of vocations.  Most priests & nuns originated in Catholic Schools.  Perhaps the new breeding ground will indeed be in the home through Catholic Home Schooling.

  • Guest

    The biggest issue with Catholic schools is, of course, their Catholic identity.

    Nearly every one I have seen is just a private school with secular textbooks and secular presentation of material that includes CCD class in the school day instead of on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening.

    The problem with this is that people mistakenly believe the children are getting a Catholic education in such schools.  They are not.

    Better they go to the government school to not get a Catholic education and know it than to go to a Catholic school and not get a Catholic education but mistakenly think they do.

    How many times do we hear, "Well, I'm a Catholic and I went to Catholic school, but I think it's okay to use the Pill, or for gays to marry, or for women to be priests, or what have you."

    Sowing and reaping. 

    You can not give what you do not have. 

  • Guest

    The quotes I gave above were from "Declaration on Christian Education", a Vatican II document.  You'll find it in sections 8 and 9 on Catholic schools.

  • Guest

    Some of the above-mentioned comments about Catholic school students are really unfair.  I truly do not want to list the "home-schooled" and "public-school" kids from Catholic families that have made mistakes and are no longer in the faith - but I can.  What does this prove?

  • Guest

    Greg,

    Thank you for the reference! 

    I'm sorry that I did not make my point very well.

    It is not that I think we should not support Catholic schools, I think we should support Catholic schools.

    Does that make sense?  It is not the support that is problematic, although that is what is mostly examined and discussed. It is the Catholicity.

    Obviously there are many examples of folks who are homeschooled or government schooled who never apparently live the faith, but home school and government school are not advertising themselves as a Catholic school.

    I don't think that knowledge equals faith (or hope or charity). But I know that the religious literacy one accumulates in a Catholic school, fairly painlessly, by age 13 will enriched their faith during subsequent years and will give them a secure base of knowledge on which to build.

  • Guest

    Protect:

    I completely agree with you.

    What really bothers me is the people who seem ready and willing to fight for their faith when it comes to apologetics, etc., but who roll-over and run when it comes to Catholic schools that are weak.

    Greg

  • mom4kids

    Heidi, I am very interested in reading your article on a Catholic education for every Catholic kid. Since it was written a while ago, the related columns do not appear. I have 4 children, 3 in catholic school and wonder what suggested alternatives to Catholic school are. Weekly faith formation classes seem a little weak, but the financial expense of catholic school coupled with the distance makes it diffiucult.

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