In anticipation of a January 19th speech by Bob Voboril, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wichita, the Serra Club of Wichita published the following backgrounder in its monthly newsletter.
To this denizen of the wasteland known as the Diocese of Rochester these statistics are simply astounding.
Some Interesting Statistics
In the past 25 years the Catholic population in the US is up by 30%, partially due to the Mexican population. Priests are down by 20% in the same time period. Number of seminarians is about the same as 25 years ago but not keeping up with the population.
We now have 17 sisters teaching in our diocese vs 90 twenty-five years ago. We currently have 45 seminarians studying for our diocese. The Wichita Diocese has one seminarian for each 3,000 Catholics, compared to the national average of one seminarian per 20,000 Catholics. [DOR has 1 seminarian for each 56,000 Catholics. -ed.] Thirty of our 45 seminarians are graduates of our Catholic high schools. Bishop Carroll has had more than 50 religious vocations in 40 years. Kapaun Mount Carmel has produced more than 120 religious vocations in 120 years. We have two of the best Catholic high schools in the world.
From 1985 to 2010, national Catholic school enrollment in the U.S. is down by a third. In our diocese it is up by the same percentage. [Enrollment in Monroe County Catholic schools is down about 80% over the same period. -ed.]
Reasons for Our Diocesan Increase
There is a book entitled "Who Will Save American Urban Catholic Schools?" One chapter and parts of others are devoted to the Diocese of Wichita Catholic Schools. In the forward it states that Wichita is one of the best examples of how Catholic education should be carried out. Catholic education is the responsibility of all Catholics, not just the parents of those currently enrolled. Our diocesan philosophy of stewardship has enabled our diocesan Catholic schools to continue accomplish their mission.
The Wichita Diocese never forgets—in fact gives first priority to—the religious mission of our Catholic schools. It is their religious mission which motivates the support of parishioners. Their first priority is forming disciples of Jesus Christ. Strong parishes are the center of the entire community. Wichita is the home of one of the strongest Catholic schools systems in the nation. We teach kids that everything we have is a gift from God and we need to give back the best that we can. Seventy percent of our parishes incomes are spent on our schools.
All our teachers function as Catholic ministers and must go through Catholic courses. All our students must pass religious tests as well as their academic subjects. Of our 38 schools, there are 24 which are new or remodeled, which reflects the importance given to education in our parishes.
The challenge is to find ways to serve our poorest students and poorest parishes. The Bishop has established the Drexel Fund and endowment to aid in this effort. This fund now stands at $2 million and the goal is to raise it to $12 million.
We appreciate the leadership that Mr. Voboril has brought to our diocese and we pray that his and all teachers’ efforts, will continue to be blessed and supported through our stewardship way of life.
Other interesting statistics
According to the 2009 Official Catholic Directory the Diocese of Wichita has 115,967 Catholics spread over 91 parishes and, while there are 11 nuns and 38 lay people involved in ministry, each of those parishes administered by a priest. At least one parish (St. Francis of Assisi) reports 85% weekend Mass attendance.