The stewardship for our Catholic schools

What we’ve learned about Stewardship
By Fr. Ken Van Haverbeke
Weekly, sometimes daily, I cringe. I am the director of the Office of Stewardship in the Diocese of Wichita, and I cringe when someone from outside the diocese calls asks, “Tell me about your tuition-free Catholic schools.”
Drawing a deep breath, I, “We don’t have tuition-free Catholic schools. Working together, all of the parishioners of the diocese assist parents who desire a Catholic education for their children, but nothing is free. In fact, our Catholic schools are provided at a very great cost to our parishes, but it is worth it!”
In our Catholic schools the children study the Catholic faith, pray often, practice moral values, learn to practice self-discipline and discipleship, and are expected to put other’s needs before their own; this in addition to providing an outstanding academic education.
But what makes the Diocese of Wichita unique is that we see the mission of educating our children in the Catholic faith, as the mission of all the parishioners of the diocese. Regardless of whether or not the parishioner has children or family in the school. Why?
In the Diocese of Wichita, we have learned that stewardship is a choice to become a disciple of Jesus Christ by recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God and by accepting an obligation to give back to God through the parish a consistent and honest offering of our time, talent, and treasure. We, as parishioners, made the decision that one of the best ways we can use our gifts of time, talent, and treasure, is through the formation and education of the next generation in the ways of the Catholic faith.
The parish, therefore, makes every effort to assist parents in providing a Catholic education for their children, and does so at a great cost, but realizing the generous sacrifice is well worth it!
Is it all free? Not at all? Every person in the parish generously sacrifices so that Catholic education, as well as many other ministries in the parish, can be a choice for parents.
Catholic education is not “tuition free,” nor are the other various ministries in the parish “free,” but rather we all contribute, thus making it possible for children and their families to participate in the various ministries of the parish.