There are more options than ever before for educating your child. Public schools, private schools, charter schools, online schools, and homeschooling are some of the options in addition to Catholic schools that parents are able to look into. It can be overwhelming to make a decision about where your child will spend eight hours a day learning lessons that will last a lifetime.
Since 2005 there has been a 30% decrease in Catholic elementary school enrollment. It seems that more and more parents are choosing an education for their children that is not faith-based (though, there has been a slight increase in homeschooling).
Why have so many parents decided that a Catholic education is not worth the investment? Perhaps, they don’t see the benefits of Catholic schools in the same way their parents did. The monetary sacrifice does not seem worth it and public schools do an adequate job instructing children. Yet, a Catholic school offers so much more than strong academics. Catholic schools have always focused on educating the whole child – mind, body, and most importantly spirit.
It’s not only okay to talk about God in a Catholic school, it’s encouraged. You can have a relationship with Jesus and not be ridiculed. The Holy Spirit’s presence is felt in the classroom. Walk into any Catholic school and you will be greeted with a statue of Jesus or the Holy Family. Crucifixes hang in every room. You can find prayers and Bible verses on the walls. The crafts the children do and the songs they sing often reflect the love of God that is being taught. Even if your Catholic school does not have a strong religious education program, these visual signs of the faith can still be found. Our children are soaked in an environment where the power of the Trinity is everywhere they look.
Catholic schools offer additional opportunities for students to go to Mass, Confession, and Adoration. What greater gift can we bestow on our children than the ability to frequent the Sacraments as a part of their education? We recall what the Saints have said about going to Mass and Confession as often as possible. Our spiritual growth and development is more important than any lesson we learn in Algebra or English class. The Sacraments are the only earthly gifts that will last to eternity.
Christians are often stereotyped as closed-minded, judgmental and hypocritical by a world that does not understand that all of the views of our faith are founded in the love of Christ. We give our children a gift when we allow them to form friendships with others who have the same moral values and standards that we do. There is a network of support in Catholic schools among children and parents because we are all pressing towards the same goal: Heaven. It is beneficial for children and teenagers to know that they are not alone in their beliefs.
Bullying is a hot button issue in education these days, yet Catholic schools have established programs for dealing with these issues long before the secular world. Catholic schools work to teach love, care and concern for others as a part of their curriculum. Community service projects, immersion trips and mission trips are encouraged for junior high and high school students. Virtues are instilled in the children. Respect, discipline, and diligence are necessary to meet the standards of the rigorous curriculum.
It is common knowledge that teachers and employees in the public school system receive better pay and benefits, so why would anyone want to teach in a Catholic school? The teachers and staff who dedicate their time and attention to our students in Catholic schools have a mission and a call from God to instruct His children. They see their vocation as a way to serve and evangelize children by bringing them the love of Christ in the classroom. It is not merely for the pay that they teach. They authentically care about the education and the salvation of our children.
If you are uneasy about the school choice you have made for your children, spend some time in prayer and visit some of your local Catholic schools. The sacrifice to send your children may be steep, but the fruits of your discipline will be well worth it.
Lord, we ask for Your wisdom and the gift of discernment as we decide where to send our children to school. We know that you will protect them and provide for them wherever they are, but help us to see clearly the path that will help lead them to a life with You as the center. Thank you for the gift of children. We ask for the intercession of Mary and the Saints as we seek to please You in all we do. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
“Young people of the third millennium must be a source of energy and leadership in our Church and our nation. Therefore, we must provide young people with an academically rigorous and doctrinally sound program of education and faith formation designed to strengthen their union with Christ and his Church. Catholic schools collaborate with parents and guardians in raising and forming their children as families struggle with the changing and challenging cultural and moral contexts in which they find themselves. Catholic schools provide young people with sound Church teaching through a broad-based curriculum, where faith and culture are intertwined in all areas of a school’s life. By equipping our young people with a sound education, rooted in the Gospel message, the Person of Jesus Christ, and rich in the cherished traditions and liturgical practices of our faith, we ensure that they have the foundation to live morally and uprightly in our complex modern world. This unique Catholic identity makes our Catholic elementary and secondary schools “Schools for the human person” and allows them to fill a critical role in the future life of our Church, our country, and our world.” (Catholic Schools on the Threshold, no.9)
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