3 Things I Wish People Knew About Catholic Schools

It's National Catholic Schools week and there's just three things I wish every parent of a student knew about a Catholic education.

Raise a ruler and pull up your knee socks if you’re excited that it’s National Catholic Schools week.

This weekend, the Diocese of Austin held one kick-tail dinner, benefiting all our 22 Catholic schools. Our keynote was Cardinal Dolan and he did not disappoint. There was something – okay, lots of things – he said that really hit me in the heart. Namely? That he asks every introduction of him to begin with his name, his family and his education at his K-8 Catholic school. “The rest,” he said, “is just gravy. But that’s the meat and potatoes.”

Where we come from and who first forms us in the faith matter most – those were powerful statements.

I am, unashamedly, Catholic schools number one fan. I grew up Protestant and went to public schools all my life, as did my husband. Yet, we’ve chosen a Catholic education for our children and we couldn’t be happier or more proud of the experience our children are having.

There are so many things to know about Catholic schools, but I suppose these are the three I think are most important:

  1. Catholic schools are open to anyone, Catholic or not. They seek to form the whole child, body, mind and soul. Their primary job is to get our kids to heaven. Academics may have led us in the door and athletics and extra-curriculars may feed their mind and bodies, but it has been the intangibles of faith that have kept us there. Whether it be saint projects or adoration, weekly school Mass or prayer time, my children are learning to love their faith while putting equal importance on loving one another, no matter the differences.
  2. A Catholic school’s success largely lies with the community. Does the priest sing the school’s praises and help parents find a way to make an education possible? Are parents involved, building community and enhancing the curriculum? Does the parish community support the school’s expenses financially? I get so many emails from parents telling me how lucky we are that our schools are so successful. You know what my reply is? No, we aren’t. We have busted tail to make our kids’ schools thrive, as has our diocese, our bishop, our priest, our faculty/staff and our parents. We’re a team and we have to be accountable to one another. It’s time we started holding people’s feet to the fire. You want to make your school better? It starts at your dinner table.
  3. The sacrifices are worth it. I hesitate to say Scott and I sacrifice (I mean, we all do), but I have been humbled to meet families who make significant sacrifices – commuting more than an hour, working two jobs, volunteering hundreds of hours and the list goes on. What are you willing to change about your lifestyle to send your kids to Catholic school? And if you are shaking your head telling me you can’t afford it, I hope you’ll make an appointment with your priest or school principal to find out if there’s a way. A priest in our diocese is sending 88 students from his parish to local schools who live at, near, or below, the poverty level. They’re sacrificing and he’s fundraising and they’re finding a way. I love that.

I’ve written before about the benefits of a Catholic education. Our schools aren’t perfect, but they are thriving and every day we do something to make them better. I hope you’ll give it some thought and know that I’m always here to answer your questions!

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11 Comments

  1. Julie Frey on January 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

    One thing I wish people understood is the huge impact of Catholic high school. I went to a wonderful Catholic elementary school, and greatly benefited from 9 years there, but no institution has left its mark on me the way my Catholic high school did. It’s where I learned to become an adult, and an adult Catholic.

    • Kathryn on January 31, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Oh, I love that, Julie!

  2. Laura on January 31, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Beautiful post! We send our 3 children to Catholic School and it is a huge sacrifice for our pocket books. BUT it is totally worth hearing our 28 week preemie twins recite Catholic prayers at almost 5 years old! Truly a blessing to have a Catholic school in our town. Downside is it only goes to 6th grade.

    • Kathryn on January 31, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      AMEN! K-6 is a beautiful start and they will benefit from that forever!

  3. Amy W. on February 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Ok, you got me. We live in Evangelical territory here, and as traditional Anglicans we are definitely out numbered! We homeschool now, but I would love to think more about a Catholic high school. Ours is not thriving, but you are right- where there’s a will, there’s a way- just get out there and make it better! I am going to look it up again. Put it on my heart to pray about- we are a few years away, and I love homeschooling now, but it would be great to learn more about Catholic school as an option!

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Starting with prayer is the best way. Keep me posted on where God is leading you and your family!

  4. Tabitha on February 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Love your blog. First found you on Instagram 🙂 Stopping by to read your Catholic schools posts. We currently homeschool but 5yrs ago the oldest 6 of our now 10 children here went for a full year. We had so many mixed emotions with our local Catholic school. We are lucky that it’s all under one roof (pre-k–12). We are looking to send #2-#8 (11th-K) there in the fall (#1 graduated last school year). VERY concerned about finances as our oldest is finishing Paramedic/Firefighter classes and I am heading to nursing school. Thought I’d stop by and ask for prayers from someone who won’t talk me out of it ☺lol. Keep up the great work!

  5. Heather Jones on May 24, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Thank you for the article! Especially #1! My husband and I are not religious but I would like my daughter to learn about faith and decide on her own. What I want most of all though is for her to learn the importance of service and giving back to her community and just being a good person. They do not have STARR tests in public school for that so it is not a focus. I realize that is a parents responsibility, so we try to do our part, but what about the other 17 children, how do we ensure they are growing up to be good as well? She is spending 7 hours a day with them and emmulating their behavior. I spend 3 hours a day with her. So yes, despite the difference in faith, I am leaning towards a faith based school.

  6. Oscar O'Malley on December 4, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I really like that you said that your children are learning to love their faith while putting equal importance on loving one another. I feel like that’s a quality we lack in this day and age. My family just moved to a new town, and one of the popular local options for school is a Catholic school. Neither my wife nor I am Catholic, but we’ve heard great things about the school already so we’ve been considering sending our kids there. Thanks for the information!

  7. Mary on April 4, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    I am reading all of these posts and taking them to prayer. We have some amazing Catholic schools in our area and I am truly praying for God’s will. My oldest will be in Kinder in the fall and all along we have planned to homeschool, but I have been rethinking this over the last few weeks and plan to discuss with my husband about options. We really just want to do what a God wants. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    • Kathryn on April 9, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      Starting on your knees is always the best spot. May you find clarity and peace with your decision. And please holler if I can answer any questions about the process!

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