Why should I care what happens in Catholic schools?

Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School is named in honor of our Blessed Mother, as she was revealed at Mount Carmel, and also Fr. Emil Kapaun, a priest of the diocese who died in North Korea in a prisoner of war camp on May, 23, 1951.

By Bob Voboril, Superintendent of Schools
When I was a little boy, I was frequently in trouble. When I walked the three blocks from St. Wenceslaus School to my house, every mother on my route home knew how much trouble I had gotten into that day by the way I dragged my books, the state of my clothing, and the way I carried myself, and they so informed my mother before I got home.
Once, when I got into a fight, one of the grandmothers came out onto her porch and scolded me.  “Bob Voboril, you know better than to behave like that. You stop that right now.”
And I did.
I came to understand the value of community even before I knew the word.
I not only had to satisfy my mother and father and my grandparents who lived one block away, but I also had to satisfy all the neighbors.
Twenty years ago, Professor James Coleman of Harvard codified my informal conclusion. Coleman found that when socioeconomic factors were held constant, non-public schools not only outperformed public schools, but Catholic schools outperformed other non-public schools. 
The cause of this, Coleman deduced, was social capital.
In Catholic schools there is a network of support and high expectations that goes beyond the student, parent, and teacher. The network includes all the personal relationships that take an interest in the school – the neighbors, the volunteers, the community service providers and the entire parish.
A parish school creates a community of high expectations that are communicated and enforced by everyone in the parish.
In 1994 the rural parish of St. Joseph, Ost, with 125 families, took on the challenge of converting an abandoned public school into a Catholic school in just six weeks.
When I attended a parish meeting with virtually every parishioner, I asked one 85-year-old widow why she was there. “Anything that happens in my parish matters to me,” she explained.
Another grandmother said to me, “Whatever it takes, my husband and I will do.” 
Is it any wonder that St. Joseph Catholic School is such a great success story? The support and active interest of all parishioners makes a major difference in whether or not a Catholic school can thrive, and, sometimes, whether or not it can survive.
Modern mobility has made it more difficult to surround parish children with this network of support and expectations. Children are less likely to be surrounded by neighbors, friends, parishioners and relatives who know them, love them, and will straighten them out when they get lost.
The challenge, then, for anyone who accepts Bishop Jackels’ vision of TOGETHER, is that we rebuild that network of support and expectation for all the members of the parish: for the dying and the bereaved; for young families with babies; for single young adults; and for school children.
For any parishioner there are many options. Volunteers are always needed. You can keep up with school events through school and parish newsletters; provide financial support for school and parish activities; pray regularly for those involved in parish education; take a personal interest in teachers, students, or families that you know, and listen to their stories.
In the case of those schools receiving support from the St. Katharine Drexel Catholic School Fund, the challenge is immeasurably tougher.
The lower the family income, the more likely it is that a child has not been exposed to the same educational experiences as other children. It is more likely that English is not the first language spoken in the home. It is more likely that the child is not being raised by two birth parents. It is more likely that the parents will be unable to supplement school activities with additional learning opportunities. It is less likely that the school has the resources to compensate for these additional challenges. It is less likely that the child’s teacher will have the experience to deal with these additional challenges.
The St. Drexel Fund helps parishes and schools obtain the resources that are needed to meet these additional learning challenges. Supporting these schools as a volunteer is an extraordinary blessing. Supporting them with a financial gift is always helpful.
I often hear people say, “My parents paid for me. I paid for my children; if parents want a Catholic education, they have to pay for it.” The truth is, no one ever does it for themselves. 
There is no time in the history of this Diocese when tuition ever approached the true cost of education. 
Even in the late 1980s when some families were paying tuition of a $1,000 per student, the true cost of education was at least $2,000. In the Diocese of Wichita, the parishes (and the Sisters who have taught us) have always carried the brunt of the cost.
Today, with the parishes providing for Catholic education for all parishioners, the fees and fund-raising that parents do accounts for less than ten percent of the total cost.
Even in those places where Catholic schools are no longer accessible, it is worthwhile to remember that most of the pastors and a substantial percentage of our teachers were educated in Catholic schools. Many of our diocesan leaders, clergy as well as lay, were educated in Catholic schools and colleges.
So, just as someone made it possible for us, we have an obligation to make it available to others. All of us have a stake in supporting the schools of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.