USCCB News Release
December 15, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Education Chair Lauds Notre Dame’s Initiative to Improve Access to Catholic Schools for Latino Children
WASHINGTON—Bishop Thomas J. Curry, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education and auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, praised an initiative to improve access to Catholic schools for Latino children.
The initiative was designed by the Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children and Families in Catholic Schools. The report “To Nurture the Soul of a Nation: Latino Families, Catholic Schools, and Educational Opportunity” was made public December 12. The task force has set a goal of enrolling one million Hispanic children in Catholic schools by 2020, doubling the percentage of Latinos in Catholic school from 3 percent to 6 percent.
"The study highlights two items in particular: Hispanic students who attend Catholic schools do better than their counterparts who do not; and Catholic schools are not attracting enough Hispanic students,” said Bishop Curry. “The study is a challenge to the Church to get the word out and spread the good news in the Hispanic community.”
The report highlights research suggesting that Latino students who attend Catholic schools enjoy a “Catholic school advantage” that helps to close the achievement gap.
Among other findings the report identifies four critical gaps in achievement and enrollment and outlines opportunities that are available in urban Catholic schools. The study also notes that even though finances are often cited as the main factor affecting enrollment, there are other factors— information, culture and leadership—that also should be addressed.
“The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that culture is enlivened by faith, challenges us to open for Latino children the rich opportunity of a Catholic school education,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the
Church and a member of the task force. He stressed the need for an attitude of welcoming and empowerment of the immigrant and the poor.
Bishop Curry agreed. “As in the past, Catholic schools are a gift to the Catholic immigrants to America. We rejoice in and celebrate that fact,” he said.
Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church and also a member of the task force, pointed to the initiative’s look toward the future.
“The Latino presence, more than any other factor, offers Catholic education the opportunity to renew itself and face the vexing challenges of the 21st century. We are being presented with a fundamental choice that we ignore at our peril,” Father Deck said.
The task force included more than 50 national leaders from the Latino community, the Church, academia, government, business, philanthropy, and K-12 education.
“We are deeply grateful to the University of Notre Dame for this wonderful contribution to Catholic school education and for its continuing contribution to the Catholic Community in America," said Bishop Curry.
Keywords: education, Catholic schools, Latino, Hispanic, University of Notre Dame, Alliance for Catholic Education, Bishop Thomas J. Curry, Bishop Jaime Soto, Rev. Allan F. Deck