Monday, January 19, 2009

For Catholic Schools, Crisis and Catharsis

Paul Vitello and Winnie Hu reported in The New York Times, January 17, 2009. Over the last 40 years U.S. Catholic school enrollment has dropped by more than half from a peak of five million students.
recently, after years of what frustrated parents describe as inertia in the church hierarchy, a sense of urgency seems to be gripping many Catholics who suddenly see in the shrinking enrollment a once unimaginable prospect: a country without Catholic schools.

I would call it complacency, not inertia, and there's been plenty of it among parish priests and non-school staff.

The article descrives innovative programs in several dioceses.
The Wichita Diocese has mounted a campaign since 1985, asking its 120,000 Catholics to tithe as much as 8 percent of household income to its ministries, which include 39 schools.

The money was not earmarked solely for the schools, but it has allowed all of them to eliminate tuition starting in 2002, with enrollment approaching a 40-year high of 11,000.

(See Wichita line men)

That five million student figure was 50% of school age Catholics, the closest approach to the 100% goal of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884. (See Every parish should have a Catholic grade school). The current figure is 15% overall, 3% for Latino Catholics.


  1. I would call it complacency, not inertia

    ...except in the cases where the Ordinary forced Pastors to raise tuition to 50% of cost, such as in Milwaukee.

  2. Andy K.7:13 PM

    If Catholics actually gave money, and attended Mass, there wouldn't be this problem!