THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: The Catholic Education ‘Investment’

THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: The Catholic Education ‘Investment’

By Bishop James R. Golka

"And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” — (Matt 18:6)

As you look at the faces of all the smiling Catholic school graduates pictured in this issue, I hope you will join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for the parents of those graduates.  Those parents chose sacrifice over comfort; they chose their children’s future over their own present.

As parents watch their children graduate from Catholic school, the expressions on their faces often are a mixture of joy and relief.  The joy is perhaps because their children have reached “the end of the beginning” in this phase of their journey.  The relief is perhaps because, for a moment, the material sacrifice is complete.

We often use that word “sacrifice” because of the real financial sacrifice parents and grandparents make to provide a Catholic education to their children and grandchildren.  Increasingly I hear parents, teachers, clergy and even students use a different world: “investment.”

That word might give us pause, as it can seem we are trading a word with deep Christian meaning, sacrifice, for a word with deep worldly meaning, investment.  However, investment is an altogether appropriate word for the discussion of Catholic education.

Is there any more appropriate “investment” than an investment in the faith of our young people?  That investment in faith has eternal ramifications for those young people, but it also has major ramifications for the future of the Church.  Our Faith cannot be distilled down into a set of cold statistical facts, but the facts are both sobering and compelling.

Here is a sobering statistic:  Some recent data suggests as many as half of our Catholic school graduates are no longer practicing their Catholic faith. We can, and must, do better for them. However, those same studies suggest that less than 5% percent of children attending public schools will retain their Catholic faith in adulthood.  Of course, we all know a student who went to public school and is a perfect example of the Catholic faith.  And we all know a student who went to Catholic school and fell away. But the facts are the facts. And those facts tell us our Catholic schools are more important than ever before.

For those of us who still might not be convinced, it is worth reflecting on a crucial element of our faith, the sacraments.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “In this age of the Church Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church, in a new way appropriate to this new age.  He acts through the sacraments…” (CCC, No.  1076).  In other words, if we want access in a real way to the activity of Christ “in this age of the Church,” we need the sacraments.

As a Catholic people, our access to the sacraments is primarily and predominately through our priests and through their cooperation with Christ.

What does this have to do with our Catholic schools?  About 20% of the U.S. population is Catholic, only 3% of children in the U.S. are educated in Catholic schools, but Catholic schools nationwide produce approximately 50% of the priests in the U.S.  It is not a leap to say that if we want the sacraments, then we want Catholic schools.

This is not to say that there are not many good teachers, administrators, students and parents involved with our public schools.  There are good people everywhere, but the public schools of today are not the public schools of 50 or 40 or even 10 years ago.

We routinely hear from faithful public school teachers and administrators who report their hands are tied as it pertains to bringing their faith, or even their common sense, into the classroom.  Our culture must do better, but until it does, we have Catholic schools.

Look again on the smiling faces of the graduates of our Catholic schools.  Those are the faces of the children in whom their parents made an investment.  That investment will likely deliver academic and material advantages to those children, and it will certainly provide mental, emotional and spiritual advantages.  More importantly, that investment, that sacrifice, sets the stage for an infinite and eternal “return on investment.”

We often hear parents say they cannot afford to invest in a Catholic education for their children.  In truth, we cannot afford to not invest in Catholic education.  For the good of our Church, for the good of our children, and for our own good.

If you have not already done so, please reach out to one of numerous Catholic elementary schools and to our two Catholic high schools.  Hear firsthand how the investment in Catholic education can have an infinite and eternal impact on young people, our Church, and on you!

Previous Article Love Bade Me Welcome
Next Article EL BÁCULO DEL OBISPO: La ‘inversión’ en educación católica
26 Rate this article:

Bishop James R. GolkaBishop James R. Golka

Other posts by Bishop James R. Golka
Contact author
Please login or register to post comments.

Contact author



  • All
  • Current issue
  • 40th Anniversary of the Diocese
  • Arts & Culture
  • Puzzle Answers
  • Diocesan News
  • Diocesan Schools
  • Deanery Briefs
  • Parish News
  • Bishop's Corner
  • The Bishop's Crozier
  • El Báculo del Obispo
  • Book Reviews
  • Español
  • Eucharistic Revival
  • Obituaries
  • Opinion
  • Commentary
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Editorials
  • Marriage and Family
  • Religious Freedom
  • Respect Life
  • US/World News
  • Vocations