Do Catholic Schools Matter?

The short answer is, “YES!”. In mid June, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) released a report asking that very question. Catholic schools, especially those in the East and Midwest, are closing at a rate that should concern us all. Funding is the major issue. From where will the money come to pay our teachers and staff, upkeep and upgrade our facilities, and offer the kinds of programs our students want and deserve? The answer to the question of where the money will come from is a complex one and involves better fiscal management at the diocesan and school/parish level, increased fundraising from constituents within the school, and (hopefully) help from the public sector in the form of tax credits and vouchers for parents to be able to choose the school that’s best for their child.
But back to the original question, “Do Catholic Schools Matter?” Once again, “YES!” The CARA report (linked below) lays out the ways that Catholic schools do matter for students, families, neighborhoods and indeed this country. 
Why do Catholic schools matter?
There is a tremendous amount of research that shows that Catholic schools perform well academically and provide a safe environment for students. The CARA report mentions these important aspects of why Catholic schools matter but the report focuses specifically on why Catholic schools matter to the future of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Catholic schools pass on the Faith to the next generation of Catholics and non Catholics alike. 
Survey after survey show that adults who attended Catholic schools as children are much more likely to attend Mass regularly as an adult. The article notes the following, “If Catholic schools disappeared the Church might expect future Mass attendance levels to be well below 10% outside of Christmas, Easter, and Ash Wednesday services.” Wow. In addition to Mass attendance. young people who attend Catholic schools are more likely to be Confirmed.
Catholic schools also have a significant impact on Vocations. Young people who attended Catholic schools are much more likely to strongly consider a vocation to priesthood and religious life.There is also significant data that those who attend Catholic schools are more likely to consider a career as a lay ecclesial minister. 
Link to CARA reports- 
Link to article- “Do Catholic Schools Matter?”- 
What needs to happen now is to find creative ways to keep our schools open and growing so that future generations will be able to benefit from our very necessary Catholic schools.   Cath Schl Wk 2011



About Rev. Brian O'Brien

Priest of the Diocese of Tulsa and President of Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, OK.
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