Contributing to a better world Print
Our Catholic Schools
Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

Our Catholic Schools by Michael Lancaster

The theme of the 2011 Catholic Schools Week celebrates the significant contributions that Catholic schools have made and continue to make to our parishes, our communities, and our nation.

While Catholic schools have long been known for their rigorous academics, their emphasis on self-discipline and their delivery of an education based on Gospel values, their positive effects have been proven to be much more numerous and far reaching.

Since the mid-1960s, several studies, conducted by organizations ranging from the National Catholic Educational Association to Harvard University, have proven that students attending Catholic schools score better academically, are more likely to volunteer, attend church, become involved in their parish and local communities, and engage in civic life than are students who attend public schools. Additionally, these studies found that Catholic schools are particularly effective in raising achievement levels for poor and disadvantaged students.

Contributing to society

As they focus on the education of the whole child, intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, Catholic schools prepare students not only for further studies, but for success in life. In addition to study skills and academics, students learn lessons that strengthen character, build integrity, fortify them in our Catholic faith, and ignite a passion to always seek the truth that is Christ and serve Him by serving others.

As you view the photos included in this edition of the Catholic Herald, you will see students engaged actively in learning and living their faith. Through a multitude of experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, our students learn the skills necessary to become faithful, productive, and contributing members of our Church, our communities, and our nation.

Aid and the common good

While public schools are funded by the state and local property taxes on the premise that an educated populace benefits the entire community, Catholic schools receive no tax dollars or public funding, though like public schools, they contribute to the common good.

Students attend our schools because parents make a conscious decision that Catholic schools provide the best, most complete education for their children. Often this requires financial sacrifices. As the total cost of education far exceeds the cost of tuition, it is only through the generosity and financial commitment of our pastors and parishes that the majority of our Catholic schools may operate.

Due to this commitment, over 7,000 students are attending 46 Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Madison, saving the taxpayers of the Wisconsin over $84 million.

Support your local school

In 2005 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document reaffirming their support for Catholic schools. This year, the five bishops of Wisconsin have reinforced this commitment (see letter on Page 3A) and pledged their support of Catholic schools while urging all Catholics to do the same.

Now is the time for us to join the bishops in the commitment to support our Catholic schools. Whether donating your time as a volunteer or making a financial contribution, your support of Catholic schools helps ensure a better future for us all.

As always, thank you for reading and may God bless you and your families.

Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison.