Catholic Education: Priceless

A colleague passed a link to this article on Catholic Education on the Catholic by Grace blog, and I’d like to pass it on…

In my five years as a Catholic freelance writer, I have never written about Catholic education. As a former teacher, I haven’t wanted to burn any bridges. Not the bridges that are in my past, nor the bridges that might be in my future. After all, what if God sends me back to teaching? Wouldn’t want to damage my chances for employment.

And so, I haven’t written about it.

We should seek not only to make Catholic education worth every penny. We should make Catholic education priceless.

Very soon, thousands of young people will return to school. Even now, their mothers are ordering the uniforms and buying the backpacks. The parents are sitting down with the family budget and hammering out how they will afford the tuition. They are purging things from the “want” list to make it all happen. They are putting off things on the “need” list and deciding to make do with what they have.

Catholic education should outshine every other educational option. Parents should turn to each other on a warm summer evening and say, “Well, that purchase will have to wait another year. Their Catholic education comes first.”

We have to prove to them that Catholic education is truly and completely Catholic. That the curriculum is thoroughly Catholic. That the hidden curriculum won’t undermine their faith. That they will encounter classmates who are grounded in the faith and not more inclined to challenge their faith or compromise their morals.

As educators, we have to prove to our parents that a Catholic education is worth their financial sacrifices.

Wouldn’t it be great if our children graduated with such a love for the Catholic Church that they considered attending a Catholic college or prayed that God would send them a Catholic spouse?

Wouldn’t it be great if they began the process of discerning a vocation while they were still in high school?

It’s idealistic, perhaps, but wouldn’t it be great if our children could go to daily Mass every day of the school year? Wouldn’t it be great if they could spend fifteen minutes in Adoration every week? If they could be equipped with an arsenal of prayers that would help them face any crisis? If they could recite the Creed and be able to explain what the Communion of Saints is? What Apostolic means? What the Four Marks of the Church are?

It’s time to light a fire and burn that bridge.

Parents are making sacrifices because they believe Catholic education provides the best foundation for their sons and daughters. What do parents expect when they fork out thousands of dollars? Certainly, they expect that their children will get a solid education, and they expect the schools to instill respect and self-discipline in their children, but they might expect those same results from many public schools or even from nonsectarian private schools.

The majority of parents choose Catholic schools for specific faith-based reasons. They expect their sons and daughters will be taught the faith – how to live it, cherish it and share it. They don’t expect the classes to be carbon copies of the public school. The room, the curriculum, the teacher, the walls in the halls, the hidden curriculum (what students learn while they are in school that we didn’t set out to teach them) – it should all underscore one thing:

We are Catholic.

When I was working on my B.A. in education, the buzz phrases were writing-across-the-curriculum or reading-across-the-curriculum. Here’s a buzz phrase for Catholic schools. Be Catholic-across-the-curriculum.

Catholic teachers should know the faith well enough to defend it. Teachers should have a personal love for Jesus Christ and His Church – and find a way to integrate faith with the subject matter.

Here’s the reality. Parents are spending thousands of dollars in order to provide their children with a Catholic education, but all too often, their children graduate from Catholic schools unable to share or defend the faith. Some even have trouble living it.

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