19 January 2015

This is the Logical Conclusion of Everything Catholic Schools Have Tried to Do for Too Long

I missed this report from the local NBC affiliate; my excuse is that I can't stand local broadcast news.  But this really is a shocker.

Or it ought to be, anyway.

[St. John Baptist] De La Salle Middle School in North City is ditching Catholicism and going public.  Why?  According to them, because they are doing so well that they want public funding to help more students. Because as a Catholic school that relies on donations, they have about 70 students; with public funding, they can increase their enrollment.

All that stands in the way is the Catholic faith.  So, obviously, it has to go. Because what makes the "education" a "quality" one?  Not the faith, that's what.

The funny thing about this is that there is a certain logic to it.  If the school really has no intent to pass along the Catholic faith, it is better to be rid of the sacrifices needed to carry out that mission. Perhaps the shocker is that this doesn't shock anyone.

Look at it another way.  When the Church has city schools that suffer as cradle Catholics move out of the area, they need other Catholics to fill the ranks, or else they must accept non-Catholics. If they accept non-Catholics, the school can either require the non-Catholic to learn about the faith and to observe certain principles attached to it, and actually try to convert them, or else it can accept non-Catholics without conditions, in order to keep collecting tuition and fees.

Which posture has your Catholic school adopted?  I know which is easier, and which promises surer short-term rewards.  Hence, the pretense is dropped, and the public school at heart becomes a public school in name.  St. John Baptist de la Salle need not be bothered with prayers for patronage anymore.

And what is the response of the Archdiocese?  Well the statement contained in the story, if accurate, seems to be as lame as its response to Mayor Slay's illegal sodomite marriage license scheme:

"The Archdiocese of St. Louis supports quality education as an essential component in breaking the cycle of poverty. While we believe the integrated spiritual and academic environment of a Catholic school best serves this purpose, we respect the decision of the board of De La Salle Middle School and appreciate their ongoing commitment to families of the Ville and surrounding neighborhoods."

Not exactly out-on-a-limb stuff, is it?  Does anyone actually believe in the Catholic mission of Catholic education?

May I humbly suggest that if the school were to form 70 Catholics in that program, that it would do more good for them, and the neighborhood, and the city, and the world, than by successfully producing 1,000 secular college students.

If you believe that the Catholic faith is necessary for one's eternal happiness, that is.


Long-Skirts said...

One must want to sacrifice for "Virtue" reality...


Queen of the Holy Rosary
Early morning bright

Kneel before
The Tabernacle
Veiled in silky white

Then I sit
Before the cross
Clasping Rosary tight

Pray before the crucifix

Altar with the
Angel statues
Keeping Him in sight

On either side
They kneel, adore
In purity of white

Spread upon
The altar
A linen woven quite

Hoping maybe
Just this once
A tinge to stain its white

Then I stand
As priest walks in
The Blessed Mother’s knight

On his back
A golden cross
Stamped on vestment white

The yellow flame
Atop the wax
Twinkle just so slight

Looking like
A sparkling crown
Above the candles white

And through the clear
Window panes
A ray from sunny light

The outside tries
To enter in
Through glass that’s framed in white

Outside there’s
A stoney wall
Projecting all its might

Would like to march
Before our Lord
But guards in its dress white

Then the whites
Begin to quiver
Paled by shadowy Ghost

A bell, held breath
A silent shiver –
Whites blaze ‘fore Blood-Flesh Host!

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone actually believe in the Catholic mission of Catholic education?"

Absolutely, but you have to really look for it to see it's application, because it has been either destroyed or compromised on many levels. In St. Louis, there is Queen of the Holy Rosary Academy - a Traditional Catholic K-8, with priests on staff (imagine that) in the spirit of St. Don Bosco, or perhaps conservative-leaning cottage schools like St. Austins.

Alternatively of course you have home schooling, which can only ever partially fulfill the entire mission of Catholic education. [Sure to have an outcry on that statement.] Thank goodness for it though when there is truly no other option to parents.

And the milquetoast response from the Diocese - wow. But hey, we're in the age of Francis. He just told us Catholics today not to breed like rabbits. So much for populating Heaven, and Catholic schools to educate them.

Nothing surprises.

Old Watson

Anonymous said...

Regarding De La Salle Academy, yes, the Faith is the most important, and unique, thing that Catholic schools have to offer. Even the pittance of support I gave De La Salle in the past will now go to zero – finite resources impose choices, and I want to direct my dollars to advancing the Faith.

However, I also want to urge we ease up a tad here. It seems we assume it is a case of ditching the Faith just to acquire government mammon. Do we know for a fact that De La Salle’s financials were going to allow it to stay open otherwise, or was it a matter of those kids losing a Catholic education sooner or later anyway? There was also some talk of extracurricular programs to educate kids in Catholicism – did those happen? The comment that risk to the Catholic character of a school begins by letting in non-Catholic students misses something very big in this instance – given the neighborhood De La Salle is in, it would have never opened as a school in the first place if it was counting on only the children of Catholic families.

My point is that even the Oratory, with numerous children, runs a school co-op, but not a full-up school. (Please, please correct me if I have this wrong. Incidentally, I hope it eventually does open a full-up school, I hope it is open to neighborhood kids, and I hope it immerses them in the Faith.) There are no doubt many administrative and logistical burdens in running a full-up school that we may not know, and those burdens may put many schools in a position of wondering if they are viable at all, yielding nothing but unpleasant options.

Anonymous said...

But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine instead that De La Salle’s de-Catholicization was due simply to putting no import on the Faith by its leadership. Well, my follow-up question would be: What are we, personally, going to do about such situations, beyond debate online? What concrete actions will we, personally, take to support our schools, to promote the idea that educating the soul is more important than even the mind, to bolster their Catholic character? It seems a widespread sentiment here is that most parochial schools have mediocre religious offerings at best – if that is your opinion, what are you going to do about it? (Prayer is the obvious top answer, but God gave us tools, resources, and intellect for a reason.) We seem to have a spirit of not wanting to even accidentally support the local Catholic school system for fear of some taint, therefore apparently being content to let those schools close and hand over their children to the breezily enthusiastic secularism of the public school system. I am absolutely not calling for parents to forgo home schooling just for the sake of buttressing the existing Catholic school system; what I am saying is, by simply denigrating that system rather than actively working to shore it up, do we think our children will be spiritually better off growing up in a world where at least some of their peers received some Catholic education, or in a world where all of their peers received a thoroughly secular education?

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

P. S. Another one I am surprised this blog missed: According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, regular prayer will be returning to the St. Elizabeth Academy campus – because the newly-relocated International Institute is converting one of the spaces to serve as a prayer room for Muslim immigrants. It just seems like a striking commentary on the value of faith in the Islamic world versus the urban West.

P. P.S. Regarding concrete actions to shore up Catholic culture, a few free ones that you may already know are (a) use the search site GoodSearch instead of Google, because GoodSearch will donate $0.01 per search to your designated cause (mine is Our Lady’s Inn), (b) uses Schnuck’s eScrip program, which allows a quick card swipe at checkout to direct 1% to 3% of your purchase value to your designated cause, (c) find your favorite Catholic school in the area and buy gas, retail, office supply, etc. scrip from its scrip program, and (d) if you use Amazon (and, yes, I can see where folks might have problems with a company like Amazon, so it is a matter of prudential judgment), then use its Smile service, which directs 0.5% of your purchase value to your chosen cause (such as, for me, the Coalition for Life – St. Louis).

thetimman said...

Bryan, you recall that I ran several posts in a series about practical solutions about a year or two ago?

Anonymous said...

I do recall... now that you mentioned it, so I am duly chastened by my faulty memory. My apologies for failing to note those posts. That said, I would urge you to re-run them, perhaps even provide a link to them every time a story regarding a Catholic school is run. But just such a post invites the next question - are those practical solutions actually happening? Is this blog community pushing them forward? If the answer is "yes", I am vastly reassured and need to pipe down, but if the answer is "no", I am just urging a change of that answer to "not yet, but soon".