A Catholic School Teacher Laments the Fact…

that Catholic schools are a dangerous place for enthusiastic Catholics who love the Catechism and Encyclicals.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Boy, that combox got dominated by an agenda-driven troll really fast.

  • Will J

    I confess to not knowing anything about the current state of Catholic education. Tim obviously has his point of view. Where would one go to get the views of others?

    • Tim Jones

      Virtually anywhere, Will.

      The troll-ish commenter on the referenced post – ostensibly a former Catholic educator – makes Tim’s point for him by rejecting every tenet of the Catholic faith while insisting this is not a problem, at all, but that the fault lies with the Church for failing to agree with him. Catholic schools are yet TOO Catholic, that’s the problem in his opinion. Oy gevalt.

  • Christine

    I teach theology and Latin in a Catholic high school. I am pleased to say that my experience has been very different from the experience of the person who wrote this article. Our principal puts Catholic identity as number one and is not afraid to let all of the teachers know this. I can’t say that every teacher in every department is 100% orthodox, but the theology department is very solid; every theology teacher I have spoken with genuinely loves and follows the Catholic faith. We have nuns (real, orthodox nuns!) in our school as well as diocesan priests. We offer twice-weekly confession and adoration as well as daily Mass and an all-school Mass at least once a month. I can’t say that every student who comes through our doors leaves with a strong faith, but many of them do. It helps that we are part of a great diocese and that our principal is very orthodox and makes Catholic identity a priority. He has told us at meetings with all members of the faculty that if we are not teaching the Catholic faith in word and deed, we should close down as a school. So there are good Catholic high schools out there, and I am very blessed to teach at one of them.

  • Tim Jones

    I am also blessed and privileged to teach at an amazing, orthodox Catholic school – the Chesterton Academy in Minneapolis. It’s kind of unique. :-) The great thing is, though, the administration is constantly fielding calls from Catholics around the world who want to follow the same pattern. Very encouraging!

  • Margaret

    I live in Silicon Valley. Tim’s assessment of Catholic Ed rings completely true, except that I’m not even sure we have 1/3 who are there for the “Catholic” part. Catholic elementary & high schools here are seen as “private”schools, but far more affordable (!) than the secular private schools. You know- small class sizes, ability to throw out trouble makers & special needs, etc. We’ve only selectively sent some of our kids, and only to high school, once we were pretty sure they had the backbone need to withstand the subtler, more insidious assault on their Faith than they would encounter in public school.

    My two cents from the Left Coast, anyway…

    • Shoe

      Unfortunately that has been my experience here on the “other” coast as well.

  • http://barryhudock.wordpress.com/ Barry Hudock

    My experience is very different as well. I most recently spent four years on the faculty of a prominent Catholic high school in upstate New York, but also have had strong connections with several other Catholic schools during my adult life.

    In every case, I have known the schools to be more or less vibrant communities with faculties who love their jobs and are committed to the Catholic mission of the school. Religion/theology departments have been staffed by faith-filled Catholics, and many other members of the faculty are the same. Of course, not every staff member is Catholic, but even those who aren’t usually have a strong appreciation for the school’s mission.

    No school or faculty or department or student body or teacher or administrator or student is perfect, of course!

  • Marthe Lépine

    I have a suggestion, maybe not for Mark, but somebody might have already done it, or might be interested to start. How about starting a directory of the most Catholic of the Catholic schools? It would probably be very useful for concerned parents. I tend to think that there may already be such directories for colleges, or at least some guide. If not, colleges and universities could be included. It would probably be a daunting task, that would have to be updated regularly as educational institutions “evolve”, but a few retired people – maybe retired educators – might enjoy it; and maybe it could be done a little like the Wikipedia system, with people contributing on-line what they know about the schools in their area. However it’s just an idea that I am throwing out, since I am just an “observer” from up North and I never had to raise kids of my own.

    • Will J

      The Cardinal Newman Society has a list. I do not know how they make their determination and hope there are more than their 50 schools in the US.

  • jeff

    While drivel like this (http://www.opw.catholic.org.au/) is being given official sanction at the highest levels of the Australian Episcopate I think that Tim’s will remain but a voice in the wilderness for the foreseeable future.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Jeff, I have just glanced quickly at the site, and I would like you to explain your use of the word “drivel”, please. IN my quick reading of a few articles, I really have not found anything offensive. Is it just that something dedicated to women and dealing with issues of particular importance to women is considered by you as just superficial and unimportant? Typical male comment, in my opinion, unless substantiated by a few comments about the actual material, in order to clarify your point of view.

  • http://www.chestertonacademy.org John N.

    I’ve been teaching a long time, and know enough to know that there many prudential decisions for teachers to make, at both Catholic and secular schools. Which books to read? How long to spend? More math and science, more literature and history, more fine arts? There are many paths up the mountain. However, the marks of an authentically Catholic school are easy to list. Frequent Mass, daily prayer, and a generous helping of the Catechism, Church Fathers and encyclicals. If your Catholic school doesn’t issue a Catechism as a textbook, be wary. If they purport to teach about “values” and “morals” without reference to the Scriptures, the Catechism and the Saints and Popes then you have an issue. The Lord himself gave us the Church and blessed its teaching capacity. A school that leaves it aside is either stupid or heterodox.

  • Charlotte

    Christine, Tim Jones, John N.
    I’m guessing that people whose experience is different from anonymous Tim’s are dealing with independent Catholic schools, not diocesan. Is that right? If not, I’d love to know the diocese.

    • Christine

      I am a teacher in the diocese of Peoria, Illinois. Our school is a diocesan school.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    Interesting. I graduated from a minor seminary in 1970. Of the 37 graduates, 2 became priests and 1 entered a religious order(and later died of aids). At our last reunion in 2010, the number of active Catholics among the surviving members of the class(34) was less than a third and I can assure you that there were NO divorced couples among my classmates families.
    Fast forward to my nieces and nephew who graduated from our local Catholic high School, a few years ago. Only 1 of the 4 is an active Catholic(who will probably join a religious order) and I can assure you that the school they attended was “Orthodox”. Their parents divorced AFTER they graduated and it was because their MOTHER left the marriage their father tried to save.
    Fast forward again, to the parish my wife is the pastoral associate of, the wealthiest and one of the MOST conservative parishes in our diocese. There are very few divorced couples in this parish and YET, my wife tell me of the VERY SAME attitudes Tim complains of among the students in the school . I can also assure you that she is as orthodox as they come along with the school staff.
    Of course, there are some things ARE different at that parish like the wealthy couple who she counseled during marriage prep who wanted her to witness their prenup and couldn’t understand why she refused nor why it would have invalidated or prevented their marriage in the Church. We lated heard through “the grapevine” that they DID have a prenup, but nobody can prove it.
    My point to all of this is that it is very hard to pinpoint WHY anyone leaves the CHURCH because it all so personal.

    • Scott W.

      Many are called, few are chosen.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    Exactly or as is MORE LIKELY, few choose.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Great suggestions by Tim. Our schools, parochial or not, are fraught with possibility. They are a force multiplier for the New Evangelization.

    A small anecdote on the matter: I’m still grateful for a course concerning social justice, which was required by my Jesuit high school, wherein we read Rerum Novarum and large excerpts from a few of the later encyclicals. I dismissed it at the time; indeed, it was more than a decade before the exposure began to bear fruit. I am quite sure that without that, I’d have had a much harder time getting over myself to get into Church teaching. In short, the long-term benefit of purposefully Catholic education cannot be overstated.


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