Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Catholic Grammer Schools Produce 2/3 of Our Priests


Bishop Matthew Clark has decided that 13 of the 24 Catholic elementary schools in Monroe County must close. Since he obstinately refuses to release any of the data used to arrive at that decision, one is left to wonder just what factors were considered and how much weight each received.

One factor that seems to have received little weight is the role that Catholic Elementary Schools play in shaping vocations.

The Data

A few years ago the USCCB and Our Sunday Visitor joined efforts to sponsor a survey of recently ordained priests. The survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and the results may be found here. Over 2,100 priests participated, giving the results a very low margin of error.

Question 46 (click on the Codebook tab and scroll down) asked if the priest attended a Catholic elementary school. Almost two-thirds (66.4%) answered yes. The next question asked about attendance at a Catholic high school. Just over half (51.4%) responded in the affirmative.


Whether or not a young man attends a Catholic high school seems to play no role in his becoming a priest. Attendance at a Catholic elementary school, however, plays a huge role in nurturing his vocation.

Since the Diocese of Rochester assumed control of all Monroe County Catholic schools, policy blunders and other mismanagement have driven thousands of children from a system that should serve as the incubator for the vast majority of our vocations. Now our bishop assures us that closing another 13 schools and packing the remaining 11 with as many children as will fit is the only way to save what's left.

I sure wish he had some credibility on this issue.


Anonymous said...

Primary education usually sets our values for life. It is when we are the most impressionable, and it is the time when we learn the basic skills of life. This is why it is also so important that boys be altar servers as that also adds to the likely hood of vocations.

Of course judging from the things I've seen over the years, it doesn't seem that Bishop Clark is at all interested in increasing the priesthood. That would interfere with his experiments in lay ministry.

Mike said...

Speaking of potential vocations ...

A couple of weeks ago the D&C published a story called "Diocese seeks men of faith." The StoryChat on that article had a lot of good comments, but the ones I found most interesting came from a guy calling himself Rochesterian@Heart.

This fellow came across as a traditionalist Catholic (although he says he is merely a Catholic, without any labels). He is at present discerning a vocation to the priesthood and, should he feel he really has one, he most likely will not apply to the Diocese of Rochester. His reasons are fascinating and present a viewpoint on why there are so few traditionalist/conservative/orthodox (pick your favorite adjective) priests in the diocese that I have not heard before.

I just checked and that StoryChat is still online at http://forums.democratandchronicle.com/index.php Click on Local News and then on the Search button to the right of "Democrat and Chronicle Forums." Type the string "diocese AND seeks" into the Search for Keywords box and hit Enter. Then you'll want the top story on the new page.

Rochesterian@Heart's first post appears on the 2nd of the 5 pages of comments. He gets into a back-and-forth with a couple of folks that I find really thought-provoking.