This is addressed to all of America’s Christian pastors, both Catholic and Evangelical; NOW is your moment to shine. Don’t miss it!!!!! Allow me to explain. Something very big is happening right now in the United States, and it’s the result of many different factors, but the big catalyst (and perhaps the final straw) is the COVID-19 pandemic. The following news clip will explain…
The increasing willingness of parents in North Carolina to homeschool their children has led to the online system for filing a Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School being temporarily overwhelmed. “The system is not currently available due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent (NOI),” the website explained to visitors in the evening hours of July 1.
“It will be back online as soon as possible,” stated the North Carolina Department of Administration, to which the Division of Non-Public Education belongs. “We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to process NOIs as quickly as possible.”LifeSiteNews: North Carolina gov’t website crashes due to influx of parents filing to homeschool
The biggest opportunity facing pastors (both Catholic priests and Evangelical ministers) is homeschooling, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to radically have a positive effect on families and the culture at large for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, however, many pastors are missing this opportunity, not for lack of resources, but for lack of vision and insight.
We are now witnessing the greatest shift in educational methods in over two centuries. Nothing in the entire 20th century can compare to this. Even the 19th century can’t compare to this. We haven’t seen anything like this since the 18th century. Parents are bringing their children home to educate them, and that means something big is about to happen, which nobody alive today has ever seen. We’re about to witness a renaissance in conservative education, backed with parental discipline and couched in a Christian worldview. An entire generation of young people are about to get their whole educational future reordered and rearranged, for the better!
Pastors need to get in front of this trend, NOW, before they miss the greatest opportunity of Christian evangelism this continent has seen since the arrival of Europeans five centuries ago. The time to get in front is limited, because like all things, nature abhors a vacuum. If pastors don’t take the lead, somebody else will, and that might not be a good thing.
The needed leadership is pretty much the same between Catholics and Evangelicals. While Evangelicals have been slow to catch on to this need, Catholics have been even slower — much slower — and both need to change in a hurry. Let me explain the things that are needed…
- Religious education curriculum and videos.
- Christian history education and videos.
- Regular socialization opportunities for homeschooled children, along with robust youth groups that focus both on religion and fun for children and teens. Emphasis being on fun! Homeschooling families need a regular release from stress.
- Free (or near free) music instruction classes for homeschoolers. Perhaps there is a way to integrate this with the Church choir?
- Free (or near free) arts instruction classes for homeschoolers. Perhaps the next Michelangelo awaits to be discovered?
- Safe community-service opportunities for homeschoolers.
- Formals and proms for homeschoolers, along with graduation ceremonies, with diplomas handed out by the head pastor himself. In the case of Catholicism, this would be the bishop. (This is just ceremonial of course, actual diplomas will vary from student to student depending on parental choice of homeschool curriculum.)
If pastors find ways to provide these things for their congregations, homeschooling parents will begin to rely on churches (not the state or private corporations) for the assistance they need in bringing their children up with a Christ-centered worldview. If today’s pastors rise to the challenge, they will oversee the greatest evangelistic advancement in five centuries. If they don’t, their influence over Christian homeschooling families will be replaced — by God knows what. The state seized that opportunity in the 20th century. Will it find a way to seize it again? Guess what! It’s already working on it, with online public schools. Pastors, the state is already two-steps ahead of you! Will you rise to the challenge?
The Evangelical Problem
The biggest problem facing the Evangelical communities are pastors who aren’t that interested in organizing homeschooling boards to help meet the needs of homeschoolers. Instead, they tend to be more interested in organizing worship services that draw in as many people as possible, creating megachurches, or else preparing for the apocalypse. There’s a heavy emphasis on adult education, without much emphasis on the education of children. All over America, we can find massive megachurch complexes, and almost none of them are dedicated to the Christian education and socialization of children. It’s a waste of space, and they’re setting themselves up for a major implosion in future generations.
It’s best for me to leave the Evangelical problems to the Evangelicals. It seems to me that the adjustments they need to make are minor, and basically involve no more than a will to try. If Evangelical pastors will simply assert themselves toward creating an atmosphere that not only encourages, but also supports, homeschooling parents, they’ll probably be successful. Evangelicals have proved to be highly adaptable in decades past, so they’ll probably rise to the occasion this time too. I’m just encouraging them to do it, ASAP, before the window of opportunity closes.
The Catholic Problem
The biggest problem facing Catholic communities are pastors whose heads are stuck in the past. They have these well-developed Catholic schools of brick and mortar, but they’re simultaneously struggling to keep them open. They must rely on the influx of money from rich Protestant parents, or parents with no religion at all, to keep their doors open. Consequently, the focus of education becomes strictly academics and business connections. Many Catholic schools boast of a high percentage of their students going on to college, and eventually becoming business leaders in the community. What these schools fail to mention is that the reason why those students went on to college is because their parents could afford it, half of them weren’t Catholic to begin with, and those that were end up having their faith destroyed by liberal universities, both secular and Catholic.
The problem Catholic pastors (priests and bishops) face is that they’re working with a system that’s obsolete and hasn’t functioned properly in a generation or two.
Let’s get back to basics, shall we? Historically speaking, what made Catholic schools different from public schools?
It was the heavy emphasis on Catholic religion, which was allowed to permeate every course of study. This was done because the people teaching those courses were deeply religious people, and I’m not just talking about typical laypeople who pray the rosary and go to mass. No. I’m talking about religious sisters, and brothers, whose entire lives were a testimony to the Catholic religion. Just one look at them, and Catholicism floods the eyes. Those religious sisters and brothers were willing to work for nothing more than room, board and a meager stipend. This is what kept the cost of Catholic schools low and affordable to the lower middle-class, and with a little help from the parish, even the poor could send their children to Catholic schools.
When the religious orders dried up, so did the supply of cheap schoolteachers. Catholic schools had to hire lay teachers, who need more money to survive, and the pay has to be at least partially competitive with public schools. So the price of Catholic education went up, and up, and up, until today it basically amounts to the tuition of a private school. Here’s the cold, hard truth. Religious orders were the backbone of Catholic education. Once those dried up, the secular public schools easily put Catholic schools out of business. What we have now is a shell of Catholic schools, that bear the Catholic name, but function more like private schools with a thin religious veneer.
In spite of this transformation (for the worse), Catholic schools are still getting clobbered by “free” public schools, subsidized by tax dollars which everyone must pay, even Catholics.
For the brief time I sent my children to Catholic school, I did so with the knowledge that while I was busting my budget every month to make tuition payments, I was simultaneously subsidizing the education of children in public schools. Eventually, even with help from the parish, my budget was overwhelmed. I just couldn’t afford the mortgage, the car payments, the bills and Catholic school at the same time. Something had to be sacrificed. So rather than send my kids to public, I brought them home for homeschooling. Most parents can’t even do that. I was one of the lucky ones.
For decades now, this is why the majority of school-age Catholics are brought up in the public schools. It’s not because the parents are bad Catholics (though they’ve been called that), and it’s not because the public schools are so great (they’re not). It’s because Sister Mary and Brother John don’t teach at Catholic schools anymore, and ever since then the tuition has gone through the roof. The average Catholic family just can’t afford it anymore, even with parish help, and it’s as simple as that.
Mother nature only has a few cruel laws, all of them bearing the same cruel penalty if they’re not followed. One of those laws is “adapt or die.” Those that fail to adapt, go extinct. It’s not just in nature, but in society too. Businesses that fail to adapt to the times go bankrupt an eventually close their doors. Governments that fail to adapt to the times go defunct. Armies that fail to adapt to the times get conquered. So it is with churches. Religious institutions that fail to adapt to the times will suffer the consequences, and we’re seeing that happen right now in Catholic education.
Catholics have these wonderful brick and mortar schools, but each year more and more close down due to lack of funding, and still yet, many of those that are able to keep their doors open, do so by compromising their mission to instill the Catholic faith upon the students that attend there. Academics and business leadership become the primary focus, which draws money in from Protestant and secular parents. It’s the only way to keep the doors open.
If Catholics ever want to bring back the old Catholic education system, it can be done, but it will take exactly two generations to do it. If we start now, we can expect vibrant and robust Catholic schools again by around the year 2060.
Yep. I said 2060.
That’s because a generation is considered to be about 20 years, and it’s going to take at least two generations to rebuild what we lost in Catholic schools over the last two generations, if we begin today. The current year is 2020, so 20 times 2 is 40, and 40 plus 2020 is 2060. Guess what? I probably won’t live long enough to see that day come, and neither will a good number of my readers.
This is why I say the current Catholic school system is obsolete. It’s not fit to the needs of the times we’re living in right now, and if we begin reforming it today, it’s going to take two generations just to get back to where we were in the 1960s and 70s.
It’s going to take two generations, because we have to start generating a desire for religious vocations again, and that is simply never going to happen so long as the majority of Catholic children attend public schools.
Hence, we now have an opportunity to change that. A whole lot of parents are pulling their children out of public schools. The reasons why are not nearly as important as the fact that they’re doing it, and that means a whole lot of those parents are Catholic parents. The only reason why they’re not being enrolled in Catholic schools is what I pointed out above — the cost!
The COVID-19 pandemic is playing a big role in this as well, and I suspect Catholic schools will soon be taking a big hit because of it too, if they already haven’t. Some Catholic parents, especially those taking care of their elders, can’t afford to let their children go to any school right now. With COVID-19, what amounts to a sniffle for the kids, could easily be a flu for the parents, and certain death for grandma living in the guestroom.
All of these factors lead to the same result. Catholic parents are homeschooling, rather than sending their kids to public schools, and from a Catholic perspective, that’s a very good thing. It means that half of the battle for the minds of Catholic youth is being won every time a parent signs the withdraw/intent papers. The other half of the battle is now in the hands of Catholic priests and bishops. It’s time to give substantial support to Catholic homeschoolers, and that means rethinking how Catholics do education entirely. We can keep those Catholic schools open, for as long as we can, but at the same time, we have to start thinking about a robust auxiliary program for Catholic homeschoolers that is either free or close-to-free.
Perhaps some of those schools, already shut down, could be utilized. Perhaps some of that extra space at parishes can be utilized. Maybe there’s some diocesan property that might become useful to this end. It’s time for Catholic pastors to put on their thinking caps, start talking to homeschooling parents, and figure out what the Church can do to help them.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.