How Do I Educate My Child to Be a Faithful Catholic?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I have a daughter in the first grade going to public school and would like to send her to a Catholic school instead but I am concerned.

My father, 2 sisters, niece and nephew (youngest is 33) all have attended Catholic schools and received great educations but none of them are practicing Catholics! My one sister who is into religion and is spiritual is a Hindu/Buddhist or some new age mixture who gets most of her religious opinions from ex-nun Karen Armstrong.

The two of us who have attended public schools also happen to be the only practicing Catholics!

Why have Catholic schools been so successful providing excellent education, yet they appear to also turn people away from the Church?

I would love to send my daughter to Catholic school but want her to stay a Catholic! Can you help me understand what happened to my relatives and if things have changed for the better — spiritually speaking — with Catholic education? Should I give the school a try?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.


Dear Marc,

Peace in Christ!

It would be hard to comment in general — schools differ and there are other factors that go into the faith formation of children.

One way to look at this is as a coordinator — your task would be to create an education package that will meet a set of objectives. These objectives are laid out in our Faith Fact Raising Tomorrow's Saints: The Catholic Education of Youth. Some people take on the entire project themselves by home schooling. Others “outsource” to schools and parish religious education programs.

If you are considering a school as part of the package, you should determine which elements of a Catholic education the school in consideration will provide, which you will provide at home, and whether the school will also provide unacceptable impediments to a Catholic education. You might speak with like-minded parents who have children in the school you’re considering. You might ask whether the children are happy, whether the parents consider the school to be directed toward God and the spiritual formation of the students, or whether there is a secular culture there and God is compartmentalized as “religion.” You might also speak with the principal and staff and take a tour. You might find out how the school celebrates the liturgical year (especially Christmas and Halloween — two holy days secularized by our culture) and how often they celebrate school Masses.

You can see that there is a premium on what happens in the home, the domestic church, the primary place of formation in the faith. Whatever school you choose, you might evaluate the quantity and quality of the time spent as a family living the faith.

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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