Editorial: Value Catholic education, protect for future generations

By Laura Hancq
February 1, 2012

Students from St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls rally on the morning of Monday, Jan. 9. (credit: Submitted by Tony Durso)

Many of us Cabrini students may take our faith-based education for granted. For some, it may not really matter that we are a Catholic community and the religious studies requirement is just another class. For others, the Catholic values could have been a deciding factor in attending or could have completely changed the course of their college career. We were all given that choice. Whether you choose to acknowledge the religious aspect of a school or not, having the option to select a Catholic education is special and can be life-changing. If they want it, families should continue to have that choice, at every level of education, from grade school to college. As Catholic school students, we feel a very special connection to those in the Philadelphia archdiocesan schools who are facing the closure of their schools and support the efforts to help the schools stay open.

Growing up is not easy. Between trying to find yourself and finding people and activities you mesh with, while trying to do well in school and worrying about your future, it can be a whirlwind. We have all been there. But then imagine having succeeded in all of those things, to have it taken away from you and being told to start again. Or imagine being about to graduate from a school that will no longer exist come summer. No place to visit with friends to say hello to former teachers, or to go back for a sporting event. No possibility of sending your children there someday. No matter how you look at it, it’s sad.

It’s no secret that Catholic school attendance is at an all-time low. According to an article written by David O’Reilly for the Philadelphia Inquirer, just nine percent of high school-aged Catholics attend a Catholic high school. With hard economic times, many parents think that money should be saved for college education instead of high school tuition. It is also becoming very rare for young people to become a priest or a sister, making Catholic education seem less relevant for many.

To those of us of Catholic upbringing on The Loquitur editorial staff, we see a need for a balance in the Church between honoring tradition and directing efforts toward the younger members. With the closing of schools by the Archdiocese, we feel they are sending the wrong message; that it is okay to continue to grow apart from your faith.

Since a lot of families do not attend Mass on Sunday, the closing of the Catholic schools could be alienating an entire generation and generations to come. Catholic schools, especially high schools, make faith relevant for the young. It is a safe place to be proud of your religion, which is pretty rare to find these days.

Obviously youth groups and CYO leagues are also designed to entice children. But in this day of technology and limited patience, the Church would do well to try and find more efforts to appeal to young people. Non-denominational Christian churches have really succeeded in this type of effort through modern attempts. Despite arguably even more traditional and conservative views, more young people seem to actively participate through their own accord. Whether it’s through the use of technology, more contemporary music or the promotion of the fellowship and activities, Christians seem to do really well in retaining the young. It is essential that the Catholic Church start to see the impending problem on their hands because if not, what will happen?

Maybe you are reading this and wondering why college students care so much about grade schools and high schools. Some of us had previous Catholic education and some of us have not. Regardless, we all do now. We value our community and want to see it continue to prosper and grow. If Catholic high school is cut out, what will that do to Catholic colleges like our very own Cabrini, which draws a lot of attendance from area Catholic schools? Hopefully we will not have to find out.  If you would like to support the effort to help a particular school stay open, please visit their website for more information on how to sign their petition or donate to the cause.

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Laura Hancq

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