Being a strong advocate for Catholic education, I saw it as an affirmation that Catholic schools in this part of the city are growing and thriving, thanks to the recent influx of Latino students.
Numbers provided by the archdiocesan Office for Schools support that. In fact, more than 1,000 of the 6,494 students in the archdiocesan high schools are Hispanic. In elementary schools, more than 4,600 of the 25,490 students are Latino.
Some of the individual school numbers also demonstrate the growth. St. Anthony’s Hispanic enrollment is 1,284; St. Adalbert’s is 471; Prince of Peace’s is 456 and St. Rafael the Archangel’s is 353.
In the recent past, many of these schools were on the verge of closing due to falling enrollments, yet with the influx of Hispanic students, that’s no longer the case.
In my daughters’ school, Blessed Sacrament, I have observed the same transformation take place, almost overnight. Our school was struggling to stay open with an enrollment under 100 only two years ago.
This fall, the doors opened to 156 students, and administrators are predicting an increase again for next year. Many of the new families are Hispanic and what a richness they have added to my daughters’ education.
The girls have observed the deep devotion Hispanics have for the Blessed Mother, especially through Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations, learned about the spirituality of the Hispanic culture by participating in posada celebrations and met peers whose life experiences have been more challenging than their own.
I’ve even learned how to make tamales during marathon tamale-making events in preparation for what’s become an annual Guadalupe celebration at Blessed Sacrament!
Research from groups like the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), predicts that in the not-too-distant future, the majority of Catholics in the United States will be Hispanic. According to data from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Web site (www.usccb.org/hispanicaffairs), Latinos comprise more than 35 percent of all Catholics in the United States and more than 50 percent of all Catholics in the United States under age 25 are of Hispanic/Latino(a) descent.
It’s only natural that this trend will carry over to our Catholic schools.
We examine this trend on Pages 10 and 11 in this issue of Catholic Herald Parenting. In her story, reporter Tracy Rusch shows the effect the growing Hispanic population has had on archdiocesan schools.
Also in this issue, in anticipation of Catholic Schools Week, (Jan. 30 to Feb. 5), we offer our annual salute to Catholic education. Read about a “Jeopardy!” champ who shares his wealth of knowledge as a Catholic school teacher; a Catholic grade school and high school grad who believes his Catholic education has taught him the lesson of service, and the innovative approaches of two local school systems to ensure that Catholic education is here to stay, long into the future.