Win a Car (and Why One Catholic School is Successful)

Saint Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina is having a fundraiser, and at $100 a ticket, the prizes are pretty cool (with the top prize a new car!). Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the chaplain to the school, and has details on the fundraiser if you would be interested in buying a ticket.

Unfortunately, I cannot afford to buy a ticket right now. Another unfortunate: I have local charities (including my own school) that need quite a bit of help right now, and when I do get the money, I will probably use it to buy a ticket for our big auction fundraiser. However, I hope Saint Joseph School has a great fundraiser and continues to provide a quality Catholic education for young persons in Greenville, SC!

Saint Joseph seems to be a model of success on  how to run a Catholic school, at a time when others seem to be declining. Fr. Longenecker explains the school’s development:

They started with $800.00 in the bank and nine students in a house borrowed from the local Lutheran pastor. Sixteen years later we occupy a 38 acre campus and have nearly 550 students in grades 6 – 12

St Joseph’s is a school that can best be described as ‘classically Catholic.’ We are orthodox and always faithful to the church’s magisterium. This sounds maybe a little bit, ummm shall we say, ‘stuffy’?

Not so. The school is an open hearted, loving and enthusiastic community with truly committed families, faculty and staff. With a full range of fine arts and athletics programs as well as high academic standards, the school also has a fine committment to the pastoral work and spiritual development of the students–seeking to form hearts and minds in the image of Christ.

Nationwide, other Catholic schools aren’t doing so well. I think we are in an emergency situation right now. One of our big donors, who lives in Chicago, has been asked by the archdiocese of Chicago to help the schools there, and I know that Chicago is not alone. In my smaller town, our school is struggling too, although we are still doing all right.  I think we need a strong effort from our bishops, teachers, and school chaplains like Fr. Longenecker, to revitalize our Catholic schools. A big part of it may involve the retirement of quite a few folks, but that is certainly not all that is needed. One of my projects (among many) is to approach my bishop about this and see what can be done. There are some very successful Catholic schools out there, and it would benefit the Church to study why these schools are successful. Some schools are probably just going to close because of demographics (some neighborhoods were once nearly 100% Catholic, but are now hardly Catholic at all), but others are faltering for other reasons.

I have heard some suggest that Catholic education isn’t worth saving, because Catholic schools have fallen victim to 1970s flakiness and liberalism. However, we must remember that the opposite of misuse is not disuse, but correct use. Is the idea of a Catholic school a bad one, or just one that was improperly implemented after Vatican II? I think the latter is true. Many parishes and bishops also became flaky after Vatican II, but I don’t hear calls to close all the parishes or get rid of bishops. We do need a revitalization, and Saint Joseph School is an exampe of how this should happen, but it isn’t going to happen without a good bit of effort, and support from teachers, pastors, and ordinary Catholics.