Tuesday, January 23, 2018

DECLINING ATTENDANCE IN OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

One nun with 50 kids and no one else assisting her was quite common yesteryear, since they commanded respect and instilled discipline:



We had a discussion today in our deanery priests' meeting about the declining enrollment in our Catholic elementary schools. In fact in the last few years, the Savannah Deanery (not diocese) has closed/closing two elementary schools. But all our elementary schools throughout the diocese have declining enrollment.

My last parish assignment had this occurring over the last 12 years.

But the other thing that is mentioned is that Catholics now use Catholic education not for handing on the Catholic Faith primarily, but for a good education coupled with the prestige associated with sending their child to a private school. If a private school, that isn't Catholic, has a better education reputation and is more prestigious, they'll send their kids there even if more expensive.

In days gone by, the most active Catholic families in a parish were the ones who use the Catholic parish's school. This is no longer the case. Often parents who send their children to Catholic school do not bring their kids to Sunday Mass.

With the loss of religious sisters and brothers teaching in our school, the Catholic identity of schools has lost something very important and which motivated parents of yesteryear to send their kids to Catholic schools and that was the authoritative teachings and spiritual identity that religious orders brought to Catholic institutions, be our schools or hospitals.

Without them, Catholics seem to see our schools and hospitals just as businesses and so they bring a consumer mentality to these institutions, but also to their parishes. It is very sad and depressing to say the least.

Press this sentence for Catholic schools' memories in photos! That era is gone with the wind!

19 comments:

Rood Screen said...

I would suggest that the problem did not start with weak parents, but with weak nuns, weak pastors and weak catechesis. Now, rather than fight for our schools as bulwarks against a militantly secular culture, we just say the schools themselves are a weakened thing of the past and so need to be closed. Strength--virtue--is now treated by our pastors as nothing more than nostalgia.

Jesus only had twelve students in His first Christian school, but He was not weak.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

I may be mistaken, but if my memory serves me correctly, I believe Catholic parents were obligated to send their children to a Catholic school if there was one in the area. My first grade classroom had 52 children and you could hear a pin drop! Unfortunately the order of nuns who taught me later devolved into a left-wing loon outfit and you wouldn't want them teaching your children about the Faith.

Anonymous said...

Parents are having only two kids. That's not growth. Catholic schools are becoming too expensive for anyone with more than two kids making less than $55,000 a year. Only rich can send their kids to Catholic school now. There are no sisters to teach that get paid nothing to bring costs down.

George said...

In the times we live in, as a Church, as a people varying faith and devotion, we, as St Paul said in his letter so long ago, "groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies". The Mystical Body is not spared travails and sufferings that must be endured even as there is birth given to new spiritual generation. The vine must be pruned so as to give birth to new branches. And we know that the Dragon,the Evil One, is ever ready to devour the new birth of those brought forth in the spirit. How great a number there are that have even been denied the gift of life itself! How many souls there are that have and continue to succumb to his deceits. How many there are who have been "midwives" in the evils that have been given birth in our own times. But thanks to what the good and generous God has provided us, we are not without hope.
God, being Generosity itself, gave completely of Himself in the Word made flesh, and in the perfection of what He desired to accomplish, willingly endured all that was necessary to secure our redemption. The perfection of God’s actions flow from His perfect Divine nature. The redemptive power of our God, unbound by temporal constraints, reaches out across the vast expanse of the ages to be applied at all times and places to those, who through their spiritual faithfulness, avail themselves of the salutary grace-filled benefits that flow from it. The manifestation of Christ's redemptive act, coming out of His Passion and Death, is ever perpetuated in our Churches through the power conferred on the Holy Priesthood through the gift of our most Holy and Generous God, and this gift makes present to us in our own time the Eternal Sacrifice of the Son of God in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.
This is truly a mystery, that the Passion and Death of Christ and its benefits to us is made present in our own time and to all times. Yet, when we look up at the night sky, do we not see the light which emanated from the stars from ages and eons in the past made present to our eyes? In a much more profound,powerful, and substantial way is Christ's redemptive sacrifice and it benefits made present to us in our time. Jesus, through His Suffering and Death, not only paid the debt for sin, but God, because of His Divine Love and Mercy, and Christ, through the effects of His Suffering and Death, poured out a Treasury of Grace available to us down through the ages, unbounded by time and space.

It is only in dedicating ourselves to daily, dedicated co-operation with God's grace, in prayer,almsgiving and sacrifice, that the Church and the world can be born anew.

Anonymous said...

As a priest of many years and the pastor of two parishes where I had to close the schools, I would like to address “Rood Screen’s” comment.
I am a very orthodox and traditional priest with a very conservative political outlook. I am also the product of a complete Catholic education from parochial school to seminary training. I had the last generation of religious sisters who were great educators and I deeply imbibed the Catholic culture which was present in the school. I have nothing but happy memories of my parochial education and am grateful that my parents sent me to Catholic school. The Catholic world in which I grew up no longer exists.

It is very easy to blame the closing of catholic schools on the clergy. However, I do not believe that just. Fr. McDonald is correct. Those Catholic schools which are still in existence are Catholic in name only. The parents have a consumeristic and often times elitist attitude. In the one parish where I served as pastor only 12 children attended Sunday Mass. Yet, there were 230 catholic kids in the school. When I addressed this issue rather forcefully with the parents, I was cursed, harangued and calumnized. It was a rather traumatic experience for me. The school closed three years later with less than 160 kids enrolled in a building that once housed 2000 students. This was an urban neighborhood (mostly people of Italian descent) where the people simply wanted the school because it was a safe alternative to the public schools in the area. When the charter school opened down the road the parents opted for the free education thus showing that they never had any real allegiance to the parish or its school.

I could writes volume on my experiences with the parents of Catholic school kids whom I found to be takers and users. The catholic schools of my parents’ generation and mine no longer exist. This is very regrettable. However, please do not blame the priests. I would love to have a true Catholic school with real teaching nuns but that is simply wishful thinking on my part.

Anonymous said...

Father, the schools are only Catholic in name only.

The sisters that remain teaching in schools are basically miserable, single old women who hate the Faith. The laity who teach in Catholic schools are ignorant of or hate the Catholic Church. They like the majority of Catholics today could care less what being a Catholic really means.

The schools deserve to close as do the churches and colleges. The majority of religious orders deserve to cease to exist because they have all betrayed Our Lord by betraying the faith. Catholic morality let alone dogma is never ever mentioned and if it is only lip service is paid to it.

The collapse of the liturgy, of the priesthood, religious life, Catholic education and now the papacy are all deserved because the Church has been unfaithful. We deserve what is happening. It is a punishment that will ultimately purify the Church but it looks like the fire will continue burning for a long time. Just look what has happened in the last week: the pope dismissed the valid concerns of an entire nation regarding the priest pedophila scandal, the Vatican just gave a high Order of Merit to a notorious abortionist who hates the Church, we had a sacraligeous Mass in Philadelphia with a deacon wearing the mask of a dog, we have a bishop who said that adulterers can receive communion if they feel justified and the list goes on and on and on. It’s good that so called Catholic schools are closing because most of them are teaching heresy anyway and destroying what was left of the faith of these children.

Adam Michael said...

Anonymous,

Amen. Correct and Prophetic.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the collapse of religious orders had anything to do with the way Vatican2 addressed those orders. That loss of identity might have been intentional, and the reduction of people in the religious life also might have been intentional. Another side of the equation could be the requirements placed on Catholic schools by the government and their accreditation agencies. That's enough to make the Catholic school seem like a private school similar to the public schools, but with a financial burdened. No identity, few Nuns, secular imposed curriculum, no Latin, and a high price.

Gene said...

Anonymous @ 7:41 has summed this up very nicely...it is unbelief, pure and simple.

Rood Screen said...

Anonymous,

I think if you do a little research beyond yourself you'll find that the parental troubles you describe were preceded by the deliberate failures of clergy and religious in the sixties and seventies.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The collapse of religious life was not intended by Vatican II or the initial reforms. In fact, that damn triumphalism of the spirit of Vatican II predicted a new springtime for the Church to include the renewal of religious life. Thus through votes in various "chapters" of religious order, the triumphalism was that if the these religious discussed what they were going to do, prayed about it, asked for guidance of the Holy Spirit, than whatever the vote was, from removing habits to living alone in apartments had the approval of the Holy Spirit--triumphalism through and through as well as the mortal sin of presumption--and one wonders if God's punishment is present in allowing these orders to decline and fall through such presumption. But I don't think the original concept of updating was mean-spirited.

But the ideology of the magic of baptism of the laity and their priestly baptismal identity eventually led these declining orders and even the number of priestly candidates to say it was God's plan for this demise so the laity could take their rightful place in the institutional Church and this was very, very real and is rearing its ugly head ago by the old timers of the renewal--like Fr. Donald Cuzzins who recently wrote an article on clericalism and there's no difference between the baptized and the ordained, such nonsense.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. Cozzens article never said or suggested that there is no difference between the baptized and the ordained.

Baptism gives the laity a dignity equal to that of the ordained. It does not give them a function in the Catholic community that is the same as the ordained.

Cozzens specifically talks about, and warns about, some clergy members who think their ordination offers them privileges and entitlements that are not available to the laity. Ordination, some wrongly think, makes them "better" (not different, but better) than the lay men and women we are called to serve.

And, as we know, not servant is greater than his/her master.

TJM said...

First "Catholic" President does it again, fake catholics who post here hardest hit:

http://victorygirlsblog.com/trump-admin-states-managing-medicaid-feel-free-defund-planned-parenthood/

Jack Kennedy, though nominally Catholic, did NOTHING to protect religious freedom and Obama is an active enemy of religious freedom. To him, the state is supreme.

rcg said...

We had a fine school that was an oasis for our children; strong Faith development, catechesis, and education. To help with costs the parish decided to admit children on vouchers from the public schools with no requirement for religious training or participation. Needless to say, the median did not rise to the previous level. The last RCIA class I participated in had a leader who didn’t like the prayer sessions and used attractive Native American (I arrived by space ship) images to relate the Passion. The priest took vacations to “energy convergence” spots and furtively aided illegal immigration. Other innovations included hiring openly homosexual teachers who also played the role of Christ on Good Friday. It is now, of course, on its last legs and the parish ain't looking so good either.

It is sad to say, but the schools must be allowed do die, as said above. It may be that the last act of the school will be to serve as a testiment to paying the wages of sin.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We refer to the calling to priesthood or religious life as a "higher" calling and Protestants say the same thing about their non-priestly ministry calling, a higher calling, are you saying it isn't, FrMJK?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Are you saying that, because you have answered a "higher" calling in being a priest, you deserve privileges and entitlements that are denied to the "lowly" laity?

If so, what might these be?

It's not about "higher" or "lower." Cozzens article is about those who, called to Holy Orders, believe that this makes them in some way "superior" to the laity and means they have a right to expect privileges and entitlements.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh,

Nowhere did Father McDonald say he deserved privileges and entitlements. You are either blind or just making this up to suit your agenda.

Anonymous said...

Some of the school decline may be due to school location. For example, Aquinas in Augusta is in an increasingly minority area (Augusta-Richmond County is majority-black), and there just are not that many blacks who are Catholics (most are some version of Baptist or Methodist). Meanwhile, adjoining Columbia County is growing in droves, and I don't think there is a Catholic school out there (at least not a Catholic high school). Of course when the current Aquinas campus was dedicated by the late Bishop O'Hara on the first Sunday of November, 1957, neither he or anyone else could have foreseen the growth of Columbia County---in a day where there was no Interstate 20 in the area, no Bobby Jones Expressway. In the early 1960s, Marist up here in Atlanta moved from downtown to the suburbs near 285, part of the move necessitated by completion of Atlanta's Downtown Connector (75-85) which took some of the land of the old campus.

Sahib Shihab said...

There is a parish in this diocese that has one such school. A pastor was sent who actually believed and taught the Catholic faith. That alone was enough to turn the parish lay mafia against him. He had a "Yankee" accent, which further alienated the drawling core of "empowered laity". Then he tried to bring in some REAL nuns who wore REAL habits to run the "sort of Catholic" parish school and that was enough! Sister Pantsuit and the rest of the Sisters of Geritol Renewal began to lie about this priest, telling the parish that he was EVICTING them from the house the parish supplied them with.

But wait! It gets better!

One of the leaders of the lay mafia assembled a commission of "concerned" Catholics (in name only) to unseat the new pastor. A letter-writing campaign to the bishop was initiated and this group harassed and lied about the poor pastor to the point that he could not function as the pastor. (Members of this agitprop group included priests and deacons from this very diocese). The result was that the priest asked the bishop for a transfer and a new pastor was brought in who, in spite of the best intentions, is too old and too sick to deal with the rigid, liberal status quo. This parish is notorious in the Savannah Diocese among the priests and none of them want to be sent there. You've probably guessed where it is by now.

Oh, and the leader of the lay mafia is a high-profile parishioner, simply awash in "respectability".

That's what happens when a priest tries to fix a waning Catholic school.