Thank God for Catholic Education

I was able to capture a little gratitude from two Catholic-school grads this week.

From an interview with Peter Dans, a medical doctor, who wrote a book on Christians in the movies in his spare time:

How does your Catholic education at Transfiguration School in New York’s Chinatown influence the way you take in and interact with popular culture?

As you know, the term “catholic” means “universal.” Our Catholic school textbooks, which affirmed God and country (Pro Deo, Pro Patria) and were inclusive, not hyphenated. The teachers taught us about the world; this was especially so at Transfiguration where they were Maryknoll missionaries.

I am especially indebted to Sister Mary Berchmans Flynn, who taught a combined fifth and sixth grade. She skipped me a grade by moving me over a row and counseled my parents to send me to a school that could better meet my needs.

At great expense, my mother, a court interpreter, and my stepfather, a merchant seaman, sent me to military school, which set me on the right path.

I got a chance to see Sister Berchmans during a stop in Hong Kong on my way to take care of cholera patients in Calcutta in 1963, and later in the 1970s at the Motherhouse in Ossining [N.Y.]. I must also mention that the neighborhood I grew up in, and which [urban planner Robert] Moses destroyed, was truly diverse, not in the phony way the term is used today. It was made up of Italians, Irish, Jews, Chinese, Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese, Puerto Ricans, and blacks.

I grew up understanding the motto “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one. Some invert that today to “out of one, many.”

And today with thriller writer Brad Thor (who recently announced he is Team Santorum):

LOPEZ: If I am not mistaken, you went to an all-boys Sacred Heart Catholic elementary school in Chicago called Hardey Prep. Does that make a long-term impact? On your writing? On your civic life? As you view issues of character?

THOR: Yes it does. So much of who I am as a man, a husband, a father, a member of my community, and a citizen comes from what I learned at Hardey Prep. If I forget everything I learned there, I will never forget the one phrase we were challenged with daily, “If not you, then who?”

This is the phrase I would challenge all of America with. Our nation is fighting for its very survival. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their Republic. If not you, then who?

Not every child can attend one, but so many Catholic schools are dedicated to being a life-changer and even -saver. Something John Boehner is well aware of. Something the Manhattan Institute’s Sol Stern has made plenty clear. And I am sure many who read this site can testify to in one way or another.

Some of you are creating your own Catholic school at home, the family being the first and primary educator. Not everyone can or does do that.

Some of you are coming to Catholic education later. Fr. Barron’s Catholicism certainly helps with that. And with continuing education.

But many need the support. Some need their lives saved, and early. And sometimes the school can make every difference.



  • Dennis O’Donovan

    Kathryn, referring to Catholic schools, you write “Not every child can attend one…” Presently, that is true for one or more reasons, but it does not have to be so. In round figures, there are 14M Catholic children in pre-K through high school. Each parent should receive a $7,000 voucher annually for each school age child. This would be $91 billion going to Catholic parents to potentially pay to Catholic schools each year. This would save the Catholic school system, which is presently going extinct. More importantly, the voucher would provide each child with a Catholic education. The arguments against this are many. The main one says that with government money comes government intrusion. However, all the bad things the government would attempt to impose on a Catholic school, 85% of Catholic children are being subjected to every day in public schools. Do we care about these ‘lost sheep’? Perhaps its time to fight over what strings come attached to government money. Catholic hospitals receive gov’t payments for medicare and medicaid. Does this give the gov’t the right to force the Catholic hospital to perform abortions? The 2002 U.S. Supreme Court on the Zelman v. Harris case of Cleveland, Ohio, said that gov’t provided vouchers when given directly to the parent to be used at the school of the parent’s choice, even religiously affiliated, are not in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In the 1960’s there were 5.6M kids in Catholic schools. Now there are 2M. We are presently losing 100,000 kids per year. Schools can only operate so long below the break even point. Conceivably it may be that within a half dozen years almost every Catholic school in America will have to shut down because its diocese will no longer subsidize it. We must educate others as to the existence of this problem and take political action. This is an issue that I encourage everyone in Catholic media to discuss as often as is reasonably possible.

    • Dennis O’Donovan

      I meant to write 13M kids.


  • Sir Robert

    I am sory tHat i am the rezult of our publik school sistem.



    • Bruce

      As long as we continue to teach the truth about the disorder of homosexuality and that homosexual acts are immoral. Oh, and that marriage is only one man + one woman for life. If so, I agree. Merry Christmas.

  • Spider

    Interesting that you mentioned “E pluribus unum”, which was our national motto up until the mid century when Congress changed it, at the behest of the bishops. While we used to be one nation of many, we are now a nation that has God stamped on our money and forces it’s citizens to profess their faith in God as part of our pledge of allegiance. So much for one nation of many. Now it is indeed “out of one, many”

    • Logike

      Spider, you can put on our coins “In Nothing we Trust” or leave them blank altogether when the majority in this country decides they are atheist. Until then, you will have to live with the decision of the courts reaffirming, “Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise” (1970). And again “These acts of “ceremonial deism” are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content” (2004).



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