Rethinking Catholic Schools

Who Really Needs Them?

I admit that I grumble a little when I sign the monthly parish check to support the local Catholic school. It’s for a lot of money—thousands of dollars—and I always think of it as a drain with little gain. Being fortunate to live in a town with an excellent public-school system, I can count on two hands the number of parish children who are enrolled in the Catholic school. It’s a fine place too, but it can’t really compare with what the local public school offers when it comes to music, art, sports, and special education.

What does it offer? What distinguishes it from the public school next door? In its advertising, the school professes to integrate gospel values with the academic and cultural lives of its students. Its website boasts about many extracurricular activities like choir, Scouting, bowling, and basketball, but curiously nothing related to Scripture study or Catholic social concerns and outreach. Sure, I know they have a religion class every day and a school Mass once a month. Yet I also know that, for the most part, the teachers are fresh out college and have no formal religious or even teacher training. As a matter of fact, some of the volunteers who teach religious education in our parish have had more advanced study in Scripture and Catholic moral teaching than some of these parochial-school teachers. As a result, at our local Catholic school the children...

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About the Author

Fr. Nonomen (a pseudonym) is the pastor of a suburban parish. He has been a priest for more than twenty years.