Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be...” - Pope Francis
A successful Catholic school begins and ends with its parish community.
When Catholic schools began in the United States they were centered on protecting Catholic children and Catholic values from a heavily Protestant curriculum. Nineteenth century public schools were teaching lessons that were openly antagonistic towards Catholics. This was a time when the nation was being flooded with Catholic immigrants from all over Europe. Then, like today, Americans, especially those on the lower rungs of society, were afraid of losing jobs and opportunities to newcomers and their fears created an unsympathetic climate. These were the days of “Irish need not apply” in the want ads of newspapers. The curriculum in public schools reflected public fears by pushing an anti-papal agenda and pro protestant core values. Parish communities and religious orders recognized the dangers of having Catholic children educated in a hostile environment and soon it was mandated that, wherever possible, parishes must build schools and Catholics were obligated to send their children to them.
These Catholic Schools were simple. They provided space where Catholic sacrament and ritual were celebrated and gospel values were interwoven through daily lessons. The schools were staffed almost exclusively by persons religious. Initially the Brothers and Sisters working in schools were often not trained or formally educated as teachers. These were also the days when “good Catholic family” was synonymous for having a dozen children, so class sizes were enormous. Overcrowded classrooms led to classroom management procedures we shudder at today. A ruler across the knuckles and desks drilled into the floor were common. Yet despite this less than ideal learning environment these persons religious managed to ensure that their pupils learned the “R’s”. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion.
The Brothers and Sisters took little pay and lived on campus so tuition was pennies a month for the mostly working class children who attended parish schools. Even with money in short supply, Parish families supported schools in other ways. People gave of themselves as much, or more, than monetarily. Many churches and school additions and improvements were made by the physical labor of parishioners along with their donations. These traditions continued through the post war years when Catholic Schools like Christ the King were built to serve the needs of the “boomer” population.
The look of Catholic Schools changed along with the shifting Church culture of the mid 1960’s. The mostly poor, urban, immigrant, Catholic populations had prospered with the help of their parish schools and been replaced by middle class families on their way to the suburbs. Students continued to need instruction in the “R’s” along with an increasingly rigorous level of math and science, to be prepared for an ever more technical work force. The sweeping changes of Vatican II relaxed rules on building and attending Catholic schools, less people living consecrated lives, and the pressure to provide a higher level of instruction meant more lay persons were working at Catholic Schools.
The more advanced curriculum demanded resources beyond only chalk and a desk. Lay people and the remaining Religious needed degrees, certifications, and to be paid a reasonable wage. School expenses increased and Parish support remained invaluable. Full houses for bingo night, special collections, kitchens full of volunteers prepping for festivals and bake sales while kids ran free around the parish grounds became common sights around parishes. Sadly these sights have become much rarer.
What has not changed is parents continue to raise children in a culture that is often hostile to Catholic values. Children are constantly bombarded with junk media messages that extol the virtues of consumerism, fame, and personal gain over community, humility and peace as Jesus taught. Christ the King Catholic School provides our students the sense of self and community necessary to combat the stream of negativity that surrounds them. We provide a rigorous curriculum facilitated by great teachers interwoven with Gospel values. Students are taught the leadership skills necessary to fulfill Christ’s mission. And we need the parish community’s backing.
The old bingo crowds have mostly gone on, the health inspector will shut down cooking without permits, and kids require constant supervision to protect against liability. They may look different but there continue to be ways parishioners can support the school. Please buy a raffle ticket this weekend. Visit the website http://ctkschool.maestroweb.com/ for items you can bid on even if you cannot attend the auction. In May, attend the Festival and spend a few dollars. And please, give freely in your prayers for the teachers and staff who have made this a great school for so many years.
Christopher J. Caban
8:00am, 5:00pm (vigil)
7:00am, 8:00am, 9:15am, 10:45am, 12:15pm, 6:00pm (youth mass)
8:00 am, 7:00 pm;
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 12 noon-7:00 p.m. (except summer)