Welcome to the Good News About Catholic Schools

Latest News About Catholic Schools

A message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.


Catholic schools:  A choice for more

When a child is baptized in the Catholic Church, his/her parents make promises to help their child grow in the Church’s faith.  Parents are their “first teachers,” their “first preachers” of the faith and, as a result, the family home becomes the “first Catholic school” and a “domestic Church.”

Without their direct and active involvement in their child’s faith formation, however, faith doesn’t happen, it won’t happen.  Simple things like teaching and “hearing” a child’s prayers, telling Bible stories, taking a child to Church, showing a child the difference between right and wrong, giving good example, treating people with respect and charity and so on, these are all part of Catholic parents’ primary responsibilities to their baptized Catholic children.

What if parents don’t exercise their faith responsibilities for whatever reason?  What happens to the faith of their baptized child?  The answer is simple: nothing.  Bringing a child into the Catholic Church in Baptism without making him/her welcome, at home, familiar with the Church —- at least on a level appropriate to a child —- make him/her a stranger to and within the community that is home to the Catholic faith.

Thank God for Catholic schools!  (Thank God, also, for Catholic religious education programs in our parishes!) Although nothing can substitute for parents’ active witness to the faith in the Catholic home, Catholic schools should be an extension of the Catholic home and faith, building on its foundation or, more often than ever before, becoming a first foundation where it does not yet exist.

In either case, Catholic schools are or should be partners to Catholic parents forming and engaging their children in Catholic faith, along with other subjects as well.  The goal is to help children become good Catholics, with knowledge of their faith, exposure to prayer and the sacraments, becoming part of their parish church community and the experience of living and relating to others —adults and peers alike — with respect and charity.  These are all things taught in Catholic schools, their religion curriculum.  And children live what they learn.

“Catholic Schools Week” annually provides all Catholics — whether they have children in Catholic schools or not — with the chance to think about how the faith is taught and witnessed and the “value” that Catholic schools offer to children, to parents, to families, to the Church, to society at large with respect to that faith and its influence.

Is that “value” worth the sacrifice it takes for parents and families to provide Catholic school education to their children when public school education is readily available without any extra cost required?  The research has been done and a majority of graduates of Catholic schools at the primary and secondary levels have demonstrated greater success across the board in a variety of measures than their public school counterparts.

We live at a time, however, when many Catholic schools throughout the country , including our own Diocese, are facing significant challenges to their continued operations because of steadily declining enrollments and the resulting strain on available financial resources; the inability of parishes and dioceses to provide subsidies to Catholic schools at past levels; competition with public schools for faculty, staff at higher salaries and competition for facilities; demographic shifts in traditionally Catholic population centers; growing secularization among Catholics regarding Catholic teachings and practices; and, as mentioned before, the perception of “value” afforded by instruction in the Catholic faith and its influence.

The key to the future of primary and secondary Catholic schools lies in the hands of Catholic parents and families as well as non-Catholics who “value” Catholic education for their children.  It comes down to a decision.  Catholic schools do the job and do it well.  A Catholic environment with its emphasis on caring for the whole person; a commitment to unity of purpose provided by Catholic faith, identity and mission; the presence of institutional structure and teaching personal discipline; adherence to codes of conduct and appropriate behavior; advocacy of social justice and service; excellence in education and a proven record of academic success; religious instruction; the personal commitment of administration, faculty and staff; a sense of partnership with parents and family, the loyalty of alumni — these characteristics of Catholic schools demonstrate the “value” that Catholic education provides.

A healthy and strong society needs good public schools. The history of American education reveals that good Catholic schools have also made a substantial contribution to society and are, likewise, necessary.  “Catholic Schools Week” is an annual reminder that Catholic schools continue to make an incredible, faith-based difference in the lives of students with a “value” worth choosing.

Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D.,
Bishop of Trenton

W
e all know the kinds of stories about Catholic schools that grab front page headlines. Unfortunately, the good news of Catholic schools is rarely reported in the mainstream media.

Too often our schools are “Best Kept Secrets” in which the value that they bring is known only to the families whose students are already enrolled. We aim to change that. 

Just for starters, here are some things you should know…

Across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, there are nearly 17,000 students in Catholic schools sponsored by their local parishes or by the Diocese of Trenton. These schools are strong and vibrant — many are well enrolled; some with waiting lists for certain grades.

Our schools continue to distinguish themselves as places of extraordinary academic advancement; robust science and technology resources, and the best in athletic development and competition, all the while forming young Catholics in their faith and providing opportunities for them to put this faith into action. Our schools provide an educational experience that can be found in no other setting.

We encourage members of the Catholic community to get the good news of Catholic schools by exploring one near you, and to stay connected with this website. Here, we will share new information and resources about our schools on a regular basis.

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We’d love to hear from you!

THE BUZZ

  • We are proud to be part of a school community. No priest ever wants to close a school. We try to do whatever we can to promote a Catholic environment … The school is part of a greater whole, and makes a strong parish. Families entrust their children to us, we educate the whole child.

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    Father Christopher Picollo
    Pastor, St. Katharine of Drexel Parish, Burlington
  • Most people believe in Catholic education, and we do not have a heavy burden here. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to lighten the burden for parents.

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    Msgr. Gregory D. Vaughan
    Pastor, St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel and former vicar general, moderator of the curia and director of vocations for the Diocese
  • “Catholic schools are or should be partners to Catholic parents forming and engaging their children in Catholic faith, along with other subjects as well.  The goal is to help children become good Catholics, with knowledge of their faith, exposure to prayer and the sacraments, becoming part of their parish church community and the experience of living and relating to others — adults and peers alike — with respect and charity.  These are all things taught in Catholic schools, their religion curriculum.  And children live what they learn.” 

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    Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
    Tenth Bishop of Trenton
  • “To be sure, it is the faith-life, the values, the ethics, and the service to others that will contribute to our global society.  It is the commitment and investment of the parish and school communities that will provide the faith-based, academic environment for our students to contribute to the future of our church and nation.”

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    JoAnn Tier
    Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Trenton
  • “Just as challenges to healthy Catholic schools increase with each passing year, so, too, must the number of priests and parishes who are willing to champion them. ”

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    Rayanne Bennett
    Associate Publisher, The Monitor; Executive Director of Communications
  • “Setting aside time to give is important. The reason to give is so other people have a chance to see the Light of Christ in your actions.”

    Luke Denn
    Eighth grader, St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford
  • “God calls us all, and creates destinies for some; what your vocation will be later, we don’t know yet. Your calling right now is to be students at St. Peter’s, to learn. Someday you will find out what your vocation is, and it will be your calling.”

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    Conventual Franciscan Father Richard Rossell
    Parochial vicar, St. Peter Parish, Point Pleasant Beach, speaking to students during the school's vocation day as part of Catholic Schools Week
  • “We gather with Catholic schools from from all over the country to celebrate the freedom we have to worship and to give thanks to God for the opportunity to learn in a community of faith.”

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    Dr. Edward Gere
    Principal, Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River