My friend Lee sent me this news (from his blog) on a Rochester radio personality taking it personally to Bishop Clark for authorizing the closure of a boatload of Catholic schools.
The radio guy’s quote:
First the priests screwed the little boys, now the bishop is screwing their parents.
And it makes me want to ask: who’s Catholic education for? Let’s look at this situation.
For starters, parents are off the hook for school tuition. They can use the cash to give to the parish religious education system, or buy books or musical instruments for their kids, or get season tickets to the symphony, or become family members of the museum or zoo.
If we assume these kids will get a poorer education in city schools, then the parents may be on the hook for a lower college tuition bill. If the kid gets into a university at all.
I think Mr Lonsberry was crude to express his opinion in this way, but he’s really no different from any traditional Catholic blogger criticizing Bishop Clark.
And I don’t mean to make light of a wrenching situation for Catholics schools in my hometown. My parish school is closing. My high school has less than half the student population it did when I was there.
But Catholic education is a modernism. It wasn’t part of the picture for almost all of the Church’s history. I don’t believe it’s a given now. Parents like it for a lot of reasons, but it also gives them an excuse to check out of taking responsibility for raising their own children in the life of faith. Thirteen out of twenty-four parishes closing? That would be a catastrophe. Thirteen schools is deeply saddening, but it also represents an opportunity. The real lament in this situation will be if parents and parishes don’t work together to provide formation of children in the faith. And if they get caught up in their angst, that’s likely what many might do.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the resources poured into the ‘Catholic’ schools and provide excellent religous education for ALL the children of our parishes? The ‘Catholic’ schools in our area have become mostly a status symbol for well-to-do folk, Catholic or not. It is very difficult for families with more than one or two children to afford the tuition. This is no slight to the schools; they no longer have the luxury of ‘free’ labor from religious women (and men). It may be time to develope a new model of Catholic education. Something along the lines of the Hebrew schools that our Jewish brethern employ.