This week, as many know, is Catholic Schools week, a celebration of Catholic education marked by doing all kinds of things that interfer with educating! (As I used to joke when teaching.)
To me, one of the goals of Catholic education is to instill in our students that desire to serve God as a priest or religious. And for sure, the Franciscans continue to pick off guys from Roger Bacon, as the Jesuits do from St. X.
To that end, Catholic schools should help students to be able to answer the question: 'What is God calling me to do?' instead of the more narcissitic 'What do I want to do?'
Looking over our current list of seminarians (29), I see what I count as 6 men whom I know have graduated from Catholic High Schools. 20% of our current roster. This from the 6th largest system of Catholic Schools in the country.
I raise this not as a complaint, but as a challenge.
For example, Elder High School in Cincinnati is the school that has the greatest history of alums going to the diocesan priesthood here. It is easy to see why: alums from the 60's tell me that there were TWO LAY TEACHERS! The rest were PRIESTS! The very building was soaked in a Catholic clerical culture (in a healthy way, not a clericallism.) As such, there would be ten to twenty men each year that would enroll in the seminary. Most of these were not ordained, but they sought the possibility, asked the question and responded to the invitation!
Now, there is one Elder grad currently in formation. Is that a coincidence that there is now only one priest on campus, and he is only parttime? There are certainly more contributing factors, but this certainly weighs large in the result, I think.
But Elder is not alone in this, the four boys high schools and rough estimates of enrollment, with current number of alums in formation with the diocese:
St. X: 1,513 boys; zero with the diocese
Elder: 960 boys; one seminarian
LaSalle: 785 boys, one seminarian
Moeller: 980 boys, one seminarian
For the record, the other three schools that I know about with an alum as a current seminarian: Badin, Alter, and Carroll.
On the memorial of St. Don Bosco, I think these stats should give us reason to pause. Our we, as Catholic educators, fullfililng our mission?