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Why I Sent My Protestant Son to a Catholic School

Wednesday, February 03, 2016 by Ann Primus Berends by Ann Primus Berends

CSW2016NonCatholicStudents1 
“We don’t teach them because they’re Catholic but because we are Catholic.”
                                                                        - Cardinal James Hickey, Washington, DC
This quote is a favorite of mine. Education Next dubbed it “a call to arms in the new crusade to save Catholic education.” Capturing as it does the Catholic principles of charity and devotion, the quote reflects the fundamental reason Catholic schools make a difference in this country—and will continue to do so: they are grounded in the Church.
"...I know first-hand the warmth of Catholic charity as it extends to non-Catholic students and parents."
As of last year, over 325,000 of the approximately 2 million students in America’s Catholic schools were non-Catholic. My Protestant son was one of them, so I know first-hand the warmth of Catholic charity as it extends to non-Catholic students and parents.
Also as of last year, about 150,000 Catholic school professionals were the purveyors of that charity, devoted as they are to the importance of Catholic education. They aren’t the only ones. Thousands more outside of Catholic schools are also devoted to the cause and daily take up their arms of support. I know this first hand, too, because I work with some of them.
Every day I have the privilege of working alongside Catholic school graduates, teachers, leaders, and lovers-at-large—modern-day saints who are dedicated to Christ and his Church. Every day I watch them live out their commitment to teaching and learning, faith formation, and educational equity. I witness their respect for the trailblazers who laid the foundation of Catholic schools. And I see their love for the children and families these schools continue to serve.
"Research shows that Catholic schools boost high school graduation rates. That those who go on to college are twice as likely as students who attended public high schools to graduate college."
Research shows that Catholic schools boost high school graduation rates. That those who go on to college are twice as likely as students who attended public high schools to graduate college. That the neighborhoods that host Catholic schools suffer when they close. These research facts are important to remember, especially in light of the crusade to save Catholic schools.
Just as important to remember, though, are those who fight on their behalf, whether in the classroom, boardroom, or family room. “To [God] be glory forever,” St. Elizabeth Ann Seton wrote, “who has called you to so glorious a combat and who so tenderly supports you through it. You will triumph, for it is Jesus who fights, not you, my dear one.”
This is the promise for all who serve America’s Catholic schools: It is God who has called you to so glorious a combat. Through you, it is Jesus who fights for your schools and their children—Catholic and non-Catholic alike. You will triumph. To God be glory forever. 

About the Author

Ann Primus Berends

Ann Primus Berends

Ann Primus Berends has written and edited works in the fields of education, spirituality, and business. These include volumes of research, education manuals, workshop and retreat materials, Bible studies, newsletters, policy and procedures handbooks, investment prospectuses, and employee development programs. Additionally, she has worked in a range of ministries including children's literacy, college student outreach, and life skills training for adults with special needs.

Prior to joining the Notre Dame family, she was a research project manager and book editor at Vanderbilt University’s National Center on School Choice. She served as an associate director of ACE Advocates and a member of ACE’s communications team before becoming associate director of the Education, Schooling, and Society minor.