Sound familiar? We Catholics have known this for years: there is no more tried-and-true way of passing on our Catholic faith to our kids than by sacrificing to put them in a Catholic school. Data proves they persevere in the faith at higher rates, pray better, are more faithful to Sunday Mass, live gospel values, are more generous to their parish, even have happier marriages, volunteer more, and transmit the faith to their own children, than those not in a Catholic school.All due respect to Cardinal Dolan, but--really? Data shows that? I'd like to see that data, please. And if it's data from before, say, 1970, then I think that it's just slightly possible that the data has changed, rather.
Also, when that data was collected, were Catholic homeschools counted as Catholic schools, or not? I'm guessing not--but I'd like to see how Catholic homeschools did in the metrics of perseverance in the faith, attendance at Sunday Mass, the living of gospel values, generosity to the parish, happier marriages etc. One small thing: I would also like to see "generosity to the parish" measured in terms of percent of annual income donated, not total donation dollar amount; it shouldn't surprise anyone that graduates of Catholic schools are comparatively more wealthy given that many Catholic schools these days cost too much for most poor Catholic families to be able to afford to send their children to these schools in the first place.
In fact, I'd like to see a survey done among Catholics. I described the survey in a comment at Magister Christianus' blog this way, though I've altered some of it slightly here:
I wish that a study would be done of Catholic school students that would ask these questions at least four or five years after high school graduation:
--Were you educated in Catholic schools primarily, public schools primarily, or home school primarily?I initially said that I'd like to see Catholics ages 22 to 32 respond, but now I think it would be helpful simply to ask any Catholic age 22 and older; stating one's age in one's responses would be totally optional. My suspicion, which I shared at Bedlam or Parnassus, is that Catholic students educated in Catholic schools since about 1970 would show rates of loss of faith and/or loss of practice of Catholicism that would be similar or even greater than those Catholic students educated in public schools since that time.
--Do you still go to Mass every Sunday? If not, about when did you stop (e.g. high school, college, after college)?
--Do you still accept Church teachings in all areas? In particular, do you reject (at least in principle--I realize that to be a sinner is not to cease to be a Christian) the sins of fornication, of contraception (if married), of abortion, and all other sins of sexual immorality? Or do you think the Church must change her teachings in these areas to conform to the culture?
--Do you pray? If so, do you pray daily? Weekly? Or less often?
--Do you go to confession on a regular basis?
--Do you see your relationship with God as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?
--Do you see your relationship with the Church as very important, somewhat important, or not important at all?
--Which of these best describes you: I am a practicing Catholic; I am Catholic, but I don't go to Church often; I am no longer Catholic; I am no longer Christian; I no longer believe in God?
This is because in a time and in places when Catholic schools were nearly ubiquitous, run by devoted religious sisters, affordable to all families in the parish, and very orthodox in their teaching of the faith, it took something approaching religious indifference for a parent to choose to send a child to public schools. But today, when Catholic schools are more scattered, are run by lay teachers some of whom openly reject Church teaching, expensive to the point of economic elitism in some parts of the country, and rather weak in terms of orthodoxy, it is not religious indifference that prompts some parents to choose public schooling or homeschooling for their children; in some situations, parents choose to avoid the Catholic schools because they don't want their children to lose the faith!
I have no way to conduct a formal, scientific survey. But I would be very interested in seeing the results of an informal one--and thus I ask my Catholic readers if they or their children over 22 would be interested in answering my questions in the comment boxes. I would also ask readers to share this survey any way they'd like (your own blog, Facebook, etc.).
One final note: some might wonder why my question about Church teaching focuses on the area of sexual morality. I chose this area because it is highly relevant to the Church today, given the impending political battle over contraceptive coverage and religious freedom. While it might be instructive to find out if, say, Catholic school graduates reject the Immaculate Conception or the Hypostatic Union, I don't think it will be as instructive as hearing where Catholic graduates of Catholic, public, and home schools stand in terms of their acceptance of Church teaching regarding sexual morality.
Please answer! Please share! Let's find out if Catholic schools still do the best job of passing on the Catholic faith--because if they don't, then that is a problem in need of a solution.
UPDATE: I was asked if answers to the survey can be anonymous. Yes, they can, for this post--I will publish whether you tag with a nickname or not.