MaryangelaA few months ago, one of our Catholic Herald reporters was assigned to a story looking into the effects of the Milwaukee Parental Choice program on our archdiocesan schools. Legislation passed late last summer allowing the program to expand into Milwaukee and Racine counties, and we were curious as to the effect it was having on the Catholic schools involved.

In researching the story, Ricardo Torres not only learned that five archdiocesan schools had embraced the opportunity to welcome Choice students, but he learned that for the first time in 13 years, Catholic school enrollment is on the rise in our archdiocese!

And interestingly, that’s not solely due to the increase in the number of schools accepting Choice students. Of the 50 Catholic schools that saw enrollment increases, 27 of the schools are suburban and rural schools that do not participate in the Choice program!

Catholic school enrollment in our archdiocese is 32,193, a 1 percent increase over last year.

For those of us who believe in the value of a Catholic education, that’s certainly something to celebrate. Actually, for anyone, that’s reason to celebrate. Even if you choose a public education for a child, a strong Catholic school system benefits all of us. Catholic school graduates will likely have a positive impact on our community with their sound educational background, rooted in Christian values.

This month marks our annual focus on Catholic schools, timed to coincide with Catholic Schools Week, celebrated nationally Jan. 29 to Feb. 5. It’s the issue we dedicate to sharing some of the good news stories that go on daily in our archdiocesan schools.

And they’re not hard to find! On our end, it’s always difficult to pick and choose whom to feature as there are so many positive things happening in our 102 Catholic elementary schools and 13 Catholic high schools.

This year we’ve chosen to showcase the incorporation of technology in the form of iPads for all middle school students at St. Eugene, Fox Point; the efforts of a parent-volunteer who makes a difference at St. Monica, Whitefish Bay, a David and Goliath success story in Burlington, where seemingly tiny Catholic Central is an athletic and academic powerhouse, to name just a few.

And how about Dominican’s own alum, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis? Mixed martial arts fans will likely know him by his memorable kick which earned him a 2010 victory in the lightweight division over the then-champion Benson Henderson. Read how this young man who has made a name for himself with his fighting skills, looks upon his Catholic education as the key to many of his successes.

You’ll find all of these stories and more inside our publication this month! And for those of you who want to take the time to go online, ( read our last issue of your Catholic Herald in which our cover story featured Laura Kaeppeler, the 2012 Miss America who, like Pettis, is a proud graduate of Catholic elementary and high school.

Catholic schools are helping to shape so many of our future leaders. In these challenging economic times, it’s encouraging that so many parents continue to make the sacrifices to ensure that their children have access to these educational opportunities.

Also this month, don’t miss our new columnist, Jeff Wenzler. Longtime Catholic Herald Parenting readers may remember his story from a few years ago. As he shares this month, he and his wife, Jennifer, were told part way through her second pregnancy that the baby might not live and perhaps they’d be better off “cutting their losses.” Jeff could not accept this. Being strongly pro-life, the couple turned to their faith as they prepared for whatever the pregnancy would bring to their lives. Jeff tells the rest of the story in this, his first regular column. You won’t want to miss it!

Finally, as a way to thank you, our readers, we offer two contests this month to sporting events in our area. Take advantage of these opportunities to win Milwaukee Wave or Milwaukee Bucks tickets! See details below.


To win a four-pack of Wave tickets to either the Friday, Feb. 10 game against the Wichita Wings or the Sunday, Feb. 12 game against the Missouri Comets at the U.S. Cellular Arena, sign up for the Catholic Herald’s free e-newsletter (by joining the Herald e-newsletter list at – You will receive stories featured in the Catholic Herald’s print publication and be automatically entered to win! Winners will be notified by email Monday, Feb. 6; To win a four-pack of Milwaukee Bucks tickets to the Saturday, March 24 game against the Indiana Pacers at the Bradley Center, complete the Kids’ Page designed by artist Mario Macari on Page 24 of the Jan. 26 issue and mail it to Catholic Herald Parenting Bucks Contest, PO Box 070913, Milwaukee, WI 53207-0913. Include name, age, parish, address and phone number along with your entry. WInners will be randomly selected from all entries received by Friday, March 2.