The purpose of this article is to encourage parents who may be considering the choice of a Catholic school for their child’s education. This alternative will require that you commit to a considerable investment of your time, talents, and financial resources for your child’s educational future. So why should you choose a Catholic school? There are many compelling reasons, beyond the benefits of higher academic achievement.
The integration of life with religious truth and values distinguishes the Catholic school from other schools. In their 1972 pastoral message on Catholic education, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined educational objectives for carrying out the mission entrusted by Jesus to the Church he founded:
Education is one of the most important ways by which the Church fulfills its commitment to the dignity of the person and building of community. Community is central to education ministry, both as a necessary condition and an ardently desired goal. The educational efforts of the Church, therefore, must be directed to forming persons-in-community; for the education of the individual Christian is important not only to his solitary destiny, but also to the destinies of the many communities in which he lives.
Catholic schools afford the fullest and best opportunity to realize the threefold purpose of Christian education among children and young people. A school has a greater claim on the time and loyalty of the student and his family. It makes accessible to students participation in the liturgy and the sacraments, which are powerful forces for the development of personal sanctity and for the building of community. It provides a more favorable pedagogical and psychological environment for teaching Christian faith. Only in such a school can they experience learning and living fully integrated in the light of faith.
In preparation for the 25th anniversary of this pastoral letter, in 1997, the American Bishops issued a statement committing themselves to new goals “as a sign of affirmation of the principles laid down in that pastoral.” They expressed their “deep conviction” and “concern for the importance of the Catholic schools.” Based on the conviction that “our Church and our nation have been enriched because of the qualify of education provided in Catholic schools over the last 300 years now we are called to sustain and expand this vitally important ministry of the Church,” their goals are that:
- Catholic schools will continue to provide high-quality education for all of their students in a context infused with Gospel values.
- Serious efforts will be made to ensure that Catholic schools are available for Catholic parents who wish to send their children to them.
- New initiatives will be launched to secure sufficient financial assistance from both private and public sectors for Catholic parents to exercise their right.
- The salaries and benefits of Catholic school teachers and administrators will reflect our teachings as expressed in Economic Justice For All.
Information in this article was excerpted from the following sources:
- Catholic Schools for the 21st Century: Executive Summary, National Congress of Catholic Schools, National Catholic Education Association, 1992.
- Distinctive Qualities of the Catholic School, National Catholic Education Association Keynote Series, 1997
- To Teach As Jesus Did, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Conference, 1972.
- What Makes a School Catholic?, National Catholic Education Association, 1991.