Thursday, May 8, 2008

Catholic Schools in the Wilderness

In a March 2, 2007 column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Catholic sociologist and researcher Fr. Andrew Greeley writes,
This is a period when the American Catholic Church is as dry and dull as the Sonoran Desert. The hope and joy generated by the Vatican Council is dead. The separation between the leaders and the followers has grown wider. The former speak on many things; the latter barely hear them...
No part of the desert is more barren than Catholic grammar schools and high schools. One rarely hears parish sermons about the benefit of Catholic schools. Diocesan school offices are busy with plans to close more schools. ... Many Catholic laity don't think the schools are necessary anymore (although others stand in waiting lines or fight bishops and priests who want to close them or won't build new ones -- not that the laity matter these days).
While Fr. Greeley is talking in general terms, he could just as easily be describing the situation right here in DOR. Father then adds,

All of this pessimism troubles me because I've spent much of my life doing research on Catholic schools. Catholic schools are among the best things that the church in this country has done, they are resources in social capital that the church should treasure, and they are more important in a time of change in the church than in a time of stability.
Do any of our leaders have ears to hear?


Anonymous said...

I love Fr. Greeley. He is one of the most prophetic scholars in the Church and I might add that he was one of the few priests to speak out against keeping abusive priets in the ministry when it first came to light in the early 80s. I look forward to reading his columns in the Chicago Sun Times. This article is one of my favorites.

Mike said...

I also like "Catholic School Research at the Crossroads." Although now 11 years old, most of its points still ring true today.

Here I particularly like Fr. Greeley's answer to the question, "Are Catholic schools 'worth it'?":

Such a question assumes that there exists a body of wisdom and a group of wise men who can determine where Catholic money goes and that the money expended by parents on Catholic schools will be available for whatever projects the wise men propose to support. Such an assumption is of course false.

How sadly true.