The good news in Catholic education!By: Bishop Edward M. Rice
As we bring our observance of Catholic Schools Week to a close, I want to take the opportunity to offer some observations. During Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 29-Feb. 4), I have traveled throughout the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau to participate in different events and to hold all-school Masses in Joplin, Springfield, and Cape Girardeau. What sticks out in my mind is the support and sacrifice of the parents who choose Catholic education. Beyond the financial sacrifice to each family and parish, there is a spirit of dedication, support, and volunteerism throughout our 23 elementary schools and three high schools. So many of our parents go beyond the call of duty and step up to head fundraising initiatives and provide support services so that our children can have the best possible education in our schools. I offer a heartfelt thank you to all our parents.
Of course, a special thanks to our administrators, staff, and teachers. Without you, our Catholic School System would collapse. Your investment in Catholic Education is a ministry, not merely a job. Your witness to the faith helps form the hearts and souls of our children long before they learn how to read or write. Your witness and service help form their moral compasses rooted in Gospel values and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Could there be any more noble work than helping form and inform God’s children?
Could there be any more noble work than helping form and inform God’s children?
Finally, I offer a word of gratitude to our priests, religious, and the many parishioners who support the local Catholic school. It is often the case that parishioners support their Catholic school long after their own children have graduated. Why? Because they see the value of a “faith-based” education. They see the contribution that students from Catholic schools make to our communities and to the work force. They see how Catholic school graduates have a profound moral sense, have exceptional leadership skills, and become contributing members of society. Catholic schools benefit our country in so many ways.
Did you know that Catholic high schools have a graduation rate of 99 percent? Did you know the average ratio of student-to-teacher is 13:1 for a Catholic elementary School, 11:1 for a Catholic high school? The national average is 13:1. Did you know there are 6,525 Catholic schools in the United States? Did you know that 85.7 percent of Catholic high school graduates attend a four-year college? Catholic schools are found in suburban, urban, rural, and the inner-city communities. With an average cost of $12,608 per student (public school), Catholic schools provide $24 billion in savings to the nation. The students of our schools become valuable members of corporations and non-profits, and leaders of industry. In addition, graduates of our Catholic schools become active members of their local parish.
It is obvious that for all the challenges we face, everyone benefits, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, from our Catholic schools and the Christ-centered education they provide.
Happy Catholic Schools Week!