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Why Catholic Schools? Part 4

The Health of the Church and Our Democracy

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the power of Catholic schools is to imagine the Church in the United States without them. What would it look like? Would it be as robust and vital? How would it produce generous leaders? How would it serve immigrants? How would it provide avenues of educational opportunity to the poor, especially those in our cities? The rise of evangelical Christian schools shows that other Christian communities have learned what many Catholics have forgotten or are willing to ignore – that there is no substitute for spending 35 hours each week in an educational environment permeated by faith and Gospel values.

To those who wonder how we can afford to make the investment necessary to sustain, strengthen, and expand Catholic schools, we respond by turning the question on its head. How can we afford not to make this investment?

Our future depends on it more than we may expect. Will it be said of our generation that we presided over the demise of the most effective and important resource for evangelization in the history of the Church in the United States? Will it be said of our generation that we lacked the resolve to preserve national treasures built upon the sacrifice of untold millions? Will it be said of our generation that we abandoned the most powerful instruments of justice that provide educational opportunity and hope for families otherwise trapped in poverty?

Surely not.

Instead, when the story of Catholic schools is written, historians will look back on our age and marvel that against great odds, we changed the ending. By then, of course, we will know one thing better than those who write this history. We will know – we will see – the promise that Christ Himself made: that He will come, that He will inspire us through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit as history unfolds to make all things new, and that He will never leave us orphans but reveal to us that we are all beloved children of our Father.”

Making God Known, Loved, and Served:
The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States
Final Report, Notre Dame Task Force on Catholic Education

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