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!