January 23, 2009


Our commitment to Catholic schools

Former First Lady Laura Bush had it right during a recent visit to a Catholic school in suburban Washington, D.C., when she praised the excellent academics and strong civic virtues that are staples of a faith-based education.

In her remarks, she also praised the Catholic Church’s commitment to educating disadvantaged students in inner-city schools.

Sound familiar?

Though her affirming words were shared during a Jan. 13 visit to Little Flower School in Bethesda, Md., Mrs. Bush could have easily been speaking at Holy Angels School in Indianapolis, Seton High School in Richmond, St. Mary School in New Albany or any of the other 68 Catholic schools that serve the 39-county area of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

As you will read in our annual Catholic Schools Week Supplement on pages 1B-20B this week, one of many qualities that our archdiocese can be proud of is its strong commitment to quality, faith-based education.

Simply put, when it comes to educating children, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, Annette “Mickey” Lentz, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Education and Faith Formation, and the outstanding administrators, educators, support staff and volunteers who share their time and talents in our schools are 100 percent committed to this ministry of the Church.

That commitment is evident to the families who enroll their children in our schools, and a review of statistics provides a compelling storyline, too.

There is a 97 percent high school graduation rate in the archdiocese, and 94 percent of those students enter college.

Our third- through 10th-grade students continue to do well on the Indiana Statewide Testing of Educational Progress-Plus (ISTEP+). The percent of archdiocesan students at each grade level passing both the language arts/English and mathematics portion of the test is well above the state average for both private and public school students.

In recent years, our tradition of excellence has earned national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recognition from the U.S. Department of Education for 25 Catholic schools in the archdiocese—more than any other diocese in the country.

But the seed for Catholic education and faith formation was planted 175 years ago by Servant of God Simon Bruté, the first bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes (now the Archdiocese of Indianapolis).

Throughout our history, the other 10 bishops and archbishops who have led us have built on Bishop Bruté’s education model for the archdiocese.

While the theme for Catholic Schools Week, celebrated nationwide on Jan. 25-31, is “Catholic Schools Celebrate Service,” its message coincides with the 2 million service hours performed by Catholic students last year in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States.

As you will read, students in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis more than do their part to serve others, and all of our former shepherds and Archbishop Buechlein would no doubt smile upon reading that story and others featured this week. They provide a snapshot of how Catholic education continues to shape so many lives in our archdiocese.

Indeed, the stories offer examples of how “creating a foundation of faith and shaping a vision of the future for children,” as senior reporter Mary Ann Wyand writes in one story, go hand in hand with all of our bishops’ and archbishops’ commitment to Catholic education.

“The United Stares can thank our Catholic schools for the great work that you do all over our country and all over the world, really,” Mrs. Bush told the Maryland students. “And it’s also a time for us to talk to our leaders about the importance of Catholic education.”

When it comes to school choice, may we take the former First Lady’s words to heart and make sure that Catholic schools continue to be included in the discussion.

—Mike Krokos

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