Lest I only point out my peeves with public education, here is an unsurprising, but disappointing, encounter with our Catholic counterparts. Perusing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch print edition today, I found a two-page spread advertising Catholic high schools in the area. There were 20 such schools represented, each with an approximately 3″ X 5″ ad for its own, with graphics, the name of the school with contact information, and a large space for a description of the school’s mission and unique characteristics.
Out of these twenty schools, only four used the word “Catholic” to describe their school’s program. I am not even talking about how convincingly or unconvincingly the school sold the Catholicity of the product– merely whether the word “Catholic” was used. These schools were St. Elizabeth Academy, St. Joseph Academy, Rosati-Kain, and Chaminade.
Another two, Kennedy and Gibault (in the Belleville Diocese) used the word “Catholic” as part of the official name of the school, though not in the description about their program. Even giving these two the benefit of the doubt, that leaves 14 out of 20 Catholic high schools that did not see fit to describe themselves as Catholic.
Lots of schools used some buzzwords that make people less uncomfortable than the word “Catholic”. Faith. Spirit. Inspired. Empowering. Bishop DuBourg used the laudable term “Christ-centered”, which gets some points but would have been unmistakable if linked to the religion it professes.
The worst four ads in terms of lacking any noticeable Catholic identity came from Barat Academy, SLUH, Cardinal Ritter, and CBC. They might as well be Burroughs for all of the Catholicity of their ads.
Some of the twenty high schools are private schools, but others are Archdiocesan.
Archbishop Carlson is right to focus on the Catholic identity of our schools as a key to their continued viability. He may have a long road ahead of him if the schools themselves don’t think it important to recruit at least in part on that basis.