You may have noticed this Sunday that there were a number of children wearing school uniforms to Mass. The reason for that is we are in Catholic Schools Week, a time dedicated to celebrating the role that Catholic schools play in our families, our parishes, our communities, and our society.
Dr. Timothy McNeiff, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New York, stopped by Morning Air® this week to discuss what makes Catholic education different, and the value it brings to families and communities in the Archdiocese of New York and around the country.
“[Catholic Schools Week is] a wonderful opportunity for us stop stop and to celebrate,” said McNeiff. “Not only the successes that we’ve had in our past, but be mindful of the successes we’re currently enjoying, and what’s the road ahead. For our schools and, more importantly, for our students. To take that time of reflection, discernment, and celebration. That’s important.”
As many parents know, finding a school with a high-quality curriculum, cutting edge technology, and good educational outcomes comes at a price. Whether it involves renting or purchasing a home in a certain (usually more expensive) public school district, or paying the hefty tuition price of private schools, the result is that these schools are simply not an option for most families. This is one area where Catholic education serves our society by helping to lessen inequality in education. Because the focus is on faith, not the family’s finances.
McNeiff told Morning Air host John Harper, “The ‘business model,’ if I can put it that way, is so challenging, but it’s intentional. The cost to educate a child far exceeds what the tuition is. It’s intentional, because we’re not private education. We’re parochial education. And we want every child to have the opportunity to have this experience. Because I define this experience as an introduction and a learning about who Jesus Christ is. You can’t artificially limit that for a child because of economics.”
And while many families make financial sacrifices to give their children a Catholic education, McNeiff shared how the Church shows its commitment to giving all students a faith-centered education, regardless of their economic situation.
“The challenge is, how do you financially keep these open,” he said. “And in the inner city, that’s where it’s most acute because there are so many families that are economically disadvantaged. In the Archdiocese here, we do yeoman’s work in terms of finding third-source funding for that. … We’re out there finding the funds so that it makes up the delta between what the tuition is and what the true cost is.”
For many families, having a place where their children can be formed mentally, physically, and spiritually is invaluable. An educational experience that treats faith as an important, relevant part of a student’s life is a rare gift, and one to be celebrated.
“We are, myself included, so blessed to be part of of this ministry,” McNeiff said. “It is God’s work and we are going to stay at it.”
Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Timothy McNeiff below: