Why Catholic Schools?

University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education

Catholic schools are good for children, families, communities, the nation, and the Church.  And today more than ever, they need our support.  Why should we champion Catholic schools?  Here are four reasons—and there are certainly more!

1). Catholic schools provide religious and moral formation in a world badly in need of Gospel values.

Catholic schools exist to introduce students to Jesus Christ, and to assist them as they grow in their love of Him. Through catechesis, celebration of the Sacraments, and diligent study of the world, students gain an appreciation for the Creator and creation.

As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written,

Catholic schools afford the fullest and best opportunity to realize the fourfold purpose of Christian education, namely, to provide an atmosphere in which the Gospel message is proclaimed, community in Christ is experienced, service to our sisters and brothers is the norm, and thanksgiving and worship of God is cultivated.”

 

2). Catholic schools excel in offering high quality education, particularly to those most in need.

Catholic schools have shown unparalleled success in educating children, promoting a lifelong commitment to faith and virtue, and encouraging civic engagement. While government leaders look frantically for programs and initiatives to improve education in America, Catholic schools maintain their track record of serving children and families admirably well, closing the achievement gap for poor and minority students, and doing so at a fraction of the cost of public schools.

 

3). Catholic schools are the responsibility of the entire Catholic community.

Faced with a dominant culture that was hostile to their values, the Catholic community in America built schools that would allow their children to grow in knowledge and faith – as good Catholics and good Americans. And with sweat, resolve, and prayer, these immigrants built the largest system of private schools the world has ever seen. For over 300 years, the Catholic community in the United States – not just pastors or parents – has championed our schools.2). Catholic schools have shown unparalleled success in educating children, promoting a lifelong commitment to faith and virtue, and encouraging civic engagement. While government leaders look frantically for programs and initiatives to improve education in America, Catholic schools maintain their track record of serving children and families admirably well, closing the achievement gap for poor and minority students, and doing so at a fraction of the cost of public schools.

Catholic schools save lives, create a more just world, breath life into parishes, and most importantly, draw children into deeper communion with Christ and the Church. It is precisely because of these benefits that the Catholic community in the United States must continue to invest in the future of our children and their school system.

 

4). Catholic schools are essential to the health of the Church and our democracy – they nurture the soul of our nation.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the power of Catholic schools is to imagine the Church in the United States without them. What would it look like? Would it be as robust and vital? How would it produce generous leaders? How would it serve immigrants? How would it provide avenues of educational opportunity to the poor, especially those in our cities? The rise of evangelical Christian schools shows that other Christian communities have learned what many Catholics have forgotten or are willing to ignore – that there is no substitute for spending 35 hours each week in an educational environment permeated by faith and Gospel values.

To those who wonder how we can afford to make the investment necessary to sustain, strengthen, and expand Catholic schools, we respond by turning the question on its head. How can we afford not to make this investment?

Our future depends on it more than we may expect. Will it be said of our generation that we presided over the demise of the most effective and important resource for evangelization in the history of the Church in the United States? Will it be said of our generation that we lacked the resolve to preserve national treasures built upon the sacrifice of untold millions? Will it be said of our generation that we abandoned the most powerful instruments of justice that provide educational opportunity and hope for families otherwise trapped in poverty?

Surely not.