Having been blessed with the gift of attending Catholic school for grades 1-12 in my hometown, I can attest that if Catholic school education is done well, it can be extremely beneficial to students, parents, parishes, communities and the Church. Any parish or group of parishes that provides a Catholic school option knows it is a significant commitment on behalf of the parish to support the important work of Catholic education.
We are blessed in our diocese to have 16 grade schools, five middle/junior high schools and four high schools with opportunities to support parents in educating their children in a Catholic school environment.
Catholic school education works in tandem with strong Catholic parenting at home. The Church teaches that the primary responsibility of educating children belongs to parents.
“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223)
Catholic schools, like any other form of Catholic education, are not a replacement for parents fulfilling their responsibility of being the primary educators of faith for their children. Rather, Catholic schools and religious education programs in parishes are there to assist parents in educating children and youth in the faith.
Without parents actively teaching and living the Catholic faith, our youth will be deprived of necessary spiritual nourishment. Children will not remain grounded in what they learn in our Catholic schools if the lessons they learn there are not reinforced by parents at home. The Church and the world, more now than ever, need parents to take this responsibility seriously.
Catholic schools provide a positive, proactive and rich way to pass on our beloved Catholic faith in its most faithful expression. Combined with strong Catholic parenting, these institutions are pillars of Catholic life and culture amidst the uncertainties of the secular world.
I invite you to join me in praying for parents and encouraging them to prayerfully discern the option of supporting and sending their children to the Catholic schools within our diocese.