May 25, 2007

Matthew 28:19

Ray has the text of a story that was in today's Pioneer Press. The text itself when you read it online provides an overview of a situation that most of us already know exists. Catholic schools are facing enormous challenges etc. etc.

However, if you see the actual print version of the paper the story is very confusingly laid out. It's THE front page lead story with a big headline: Can Catholic Schools Endure? Accompanying it on the front page is a huge color photo of a procession at the Graduation Mass at St. Agnes. The caption under the photo says: the inner-city institution is struggling to keep its head above water financially. There is also a graph showing increased enrollment since 1970 in non-Catholic and minority enrollment at Catholic schools.

I thought: where are they going with this? The article runs all over talking about the urban/suburban dynamic, financial challenges, good news/bad news. The chart on the front page does NOT have any corresponding info on Catholic enrollment since 1970. It does mention that St. Agnes is saved in the article but anyone doing a quick glance at just the front page is going to think they are still doomed. I don't think they emphasized that is was only the high school at St. Agnes that was in danger, NOT the entire school.

The headline is problematic and worrisome. Not because most thinking Catholics don't wonder if Catholic schools can endure but because I think it fails to raise the most critical issue.

The unspoken issue is not lack of demand for education in a Catholic school. The unspoken issue is the lack of Catholic education in the Catholic school. This point is not mentioned at all in the article.

The usual problems are lack of money for our schools and declining enrollment. Would we have more money to spend on good Catholic schools if we weren't throwing our money at Catholic schools that are not teaching the Faith? Would more parents that are homeschooling opt to send their children to a Catholic school if they were assured it was, actually, Catholic? Would we have more Catholics to send to these good schools, if we were evangelizing?

I think it's a scandal that our school system is being used as a refuge from the public school system. I think it's terrible that we are missing the opportunity to evangelize by allowing non-Catholics to come to our school and avoiding the chance to convert them. I realize evangelization is a dirty word these days. Look what happened to the Holy Father when he talked about missionaries bringing Christ to the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

Aren't we CHARGED with making disciples of all nations? Let's get on with it then. Why are we so ashamed of our Faith? Why are we so timid?


Anonymous L said...

My boys go to St. Thomas Academy and we couldn't be happier! They have become amazing young men committed to leadership, respect and community service. They study and live their catholic faith daily. Yes, we pay a big price, but it's worth every penny.
My daughter is in a catholic school which is led by a non-catholic christian principal. This person witnesses their faith wonderfully, and we are happy with the job they've done, but I do feel that this school focuses more on the academics, while other things (like mass)are secondary. At our previous catholic school in Indiana, the children went to mass at least 3 times a week. Here, it's twice a month plus obligatory holy days. I wonder if it's because there's more competition academically with public schools in the suburbs? Thoughts?

May 28, 2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

L: I don't think the Mass attendance is an urban/suburban thing. I know at least one suburban school with Mass once/week and one inner-city school with Mass once/week. The days of daily Mass seem to be long gone.

My thought is: they may not have a priest available for Mass more then a few times/month or it may be because there are a lot of non-Catholics attending that they don't want to "exclude". Not sure.

May 29, 2007 12:26 PM  

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