Welcome to the Good News About Catholic Schools

A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. on the importance of Catholic schools

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

There are many wonderful public and Catholic schools in New Jersey that do a great job educating our kids. Parents choose “Catholic” schools BECAUSE they are Catholic. With all due respect to public schools, there is and there should be a difference.

In the Diocese of Trenton, there are 39 Catholic elementary schools and 11 Catholic secondary schools that provide an excellent education to their over 15,100 students. Parents opt for these Catholic schools often at great financial sacrifice. Enrollments, however, are declining and have been for some time now.

A recent article posted on NJ.com – “These Are All the NJ Catholic Schools Closing and Merging This Year,” June 11, 2019 – noted that declining enrollment and subsequent financial strain on their parish sponsors have resulted in decisions to close or merge Catholic schools. Here in our Diocese, one Catholic elementary school has closed this year, another two Catholic elementary schools have merged, and a third has transitioned from a diocesan regional to a parish-based Catholic school.

The Diocese has studied the situation in all our Catholic elementary schools extensively and has produced two reports on Catholic school “sustainability” – one in 2013 and another in 2018 – with a goal to develop criteria and a plan to “sustain” and keep our Catholic schools open wherever possible rather than to close them.

Given the steadily escalating costs of providing an education that is both faithfully Catholic and academically excellent, and the school and property tax burden that all New Jersey families face, the prospect of sending children to Catholic schools rather than tax-supported public schools has become problematic for our Catholic families. Another recent article posted on NJ.com – “The 30 NJ Towns Paying the Highest Schools Tax Bills,” August 3, 2019 – observed that New Jersey has the “highest-in-the nation property taxes” and that “school taxes account for 52 percent of that.” Non-public school vouchers (parental school choice) available and shown to be effective in other states and scholarship initiatives would certainly make a difference here, but unfortunately, they do not seem to be on the horizon for Catholic parents in the Garden State.

As a diocesan bishop who has spent virtually all of his priestly ministry in some form of Catholic education, current challenges to providing and sustaining our Catholic schools, despite the increasing financial burdens involved, weigh heavily upon me. And, yet, our Catholic families cannot lose hope.  Catholic schools in the Diocese of Trenton are an excellent choice and a tremendous investment in our future. […continue reading]

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THE BUZZ

  • “One of the bigger differences between Catholic and public education is the ability to share openly in our beliefs, and to use the way of Christ as a guide for ourselves and our students. Academically we … are able to focus more on the whole child instead of standardized assessment.”

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    Salavatore Chiaravalloti
    Principal, St. Ann School, Lawrenceville
  • “It’s always a joy to share the things that make Catholic schools special.”

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    Melina Stern
    Sixth Grade Teacher, Trenton Catholic Academy, Lower School
  • Learning ‘happens’ in a Catholic school because teaching puts the student and his/her needs first. There, knowledge and truth are ‘experienced’ by them through the dedication and commitment of professionals who believe in what they teach as a revelation of God’s goodness and love for the world he has created. Religion and all the other academic subjects, integrated and taught so effectively and comprehensively, are a ‘package deal’ in a Catholic school.”

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    Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
    Tenth Bishop of Trenton
  • “Catholic schools exist to teach students about God and to integrate the faith in all areas of the curriculum. The faith-life of students will be supported as enhanced curriculum guidelines immerse the teachings of the Gospel into all subjects providing resources for faculty implementation.”

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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
  • “We educate the mind, body and spirit of our students…the academic rigor, opportunity for Christian service and co-curricular activities are top notch. Receiving a Catholic education gives the student the whole package.”

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    Joanna Barlow
    Principal, Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceveille
  • “The mission for the [Catholic] curriculum is to prepare the students for success in their readings, writing, speaking and listening skills across all disciplines. The vision encompasses the mindset to guide students to become lifelong learners, to read widely, become culturally literate, to use written and verbal communication to express opinions and to demonstrate critical analysis while infusing the tenets of our Catholic faith.”

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    Dr. Margaret Boland
    Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools
  • “The three main values I learned in Catholic school were faith, compassion and accountability.”

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    Jimmy Yacabonis
    Starting Pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles & St. Benedict School Alumni
  • “Jesus Christ is the center of our Catholic educational program; Jesus is its heart, and Jesus is its enlightenment, knowledge and saving grace of the world that enables our students to truly make a difference.”

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    Father Gabriel J. Zeis
    Vicar for Catholic Education, Diocese of Trenton