My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
In my pastoral vision for the New Evangelization, which I wrote in 2007, I asked Catholic schools of Brooklyn and Queens to strengthen their efforts to identify and fulfill their Catholic mission. Four years later, when the Preserving the Vision Strategic Plan for Catholic Education was announced, we emphasized that the true mission of Catholic education for the Diocese of Brooklyn is to lead those entrusted to our care to find salvation in Jesus Christ, a mission that should be shared by all involved in Catholic education.
The evangelistic mission of Catholic Education incorporates many priorities, in addition to strengthening Catholic identity. First, it is a priority that we achieve academic excellence, adequate enrollment, sufficient funding, good governance, excellent communication, as well as good planning, leadership, collaboration, political advocacy, safety, and up-to-date building infrastructure. There are many goals that we wish to achieve. Moreover, the Catholic academies and schools within the diocese continue to prioritize strong support for the New Evangelization initiatives of the Universal Church, in order to meet the challenges which today’s society and changing cultures are posing to our faith.
A new governance structure, especially in our Catholic academies, allows the pastors who are the members of the Corporation to set evangelical priorities, asking their managing boards to carry them out with the help of principals and teachers. At one of our recent pastors meetings, we asked our pastors to respond to certain questions concerning their academies and schools. It was revealing to see the interest and also sometimes the confusion that the new academy system has created in the Diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens.
We are preparing a detailed response to all of the questions and issues discussed in that consultation this past spring. It will be presented at our first pastors meeting this fall. After the presentation, hopefully, any confusion will be alleviated.
One of the wonderful aspects of our Catholic school network and administration is the strategic planning with which they assist our academies and schools in developing. There are many priorities which guide our network of schools. Planning processes truly give substance and direction to our educational efforts. I take this time to applaud our Catholic School Office and our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko for their great work.
There is great news about Catholic education, as we look back on this past academic year. The English Language Arts (ELA) results on New York State tests in our Catholic academies and schools consistently outpaced New York City schools by an average of 12 percent.
Catholic Education is also cost efficient. It cost us an average of just about $5,143, compared to over $19,597 per pupil in New York City public elementary schools; saving the taxpayers of the City over $600 million each year.
The average annual tuition for a Catholic elementary school and academy within the Diocese of Brooklyn is $4,022. Because we provide over $7.566 million in scholarships, as well as even more indirect aid, almost 5,500 students receive scholarships to attend Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens.
Over 75 percent of our eighth grade Catholic school graduates will attend Catholic or other private or specialized high schools. Just over 500 eighth grade graduates are offered over $8.8 million in merit-based scholarships to attend these high schools. In addition, 99 percent of our students in Catholic secondary schools graduate within four years. And, 98 percent of our students go on to college. This is a record of which I am truly proud and which should be recognized by all.
Hopefully, by the end of 2017, we will have all of our Catholic elementary schools converted to academies sponsored by one or more parish. Each will have pastors serve as members of the corporation with functioning managing boards whose responsibility is to hire a principal and the hiring of teachers. These independent Catholic schools in our network allow us to use the best needs available to us to continue Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens. I have always known that Catholic schools are the best means of evangelization, and leadership formation for the future of the Church of the United States. Our commitment to Catholic schools will and must never waiver.
Catholic education is vital to the mission of the New Evangelization as we put out into the deep of a new society that demands even better formation in the faith. At the same time, the very essence of Catholic evangelization is found the work of the parish religious education programs and our Catholic schools and academies. These are equal partners in the important ministry, as we redouble our efforts to recruit students for our religious education programs, especially those who are not able to benefit from our Catholic education.
Our Catholic education model is based on strong partnerships. Partnerships of board chairs, pastors, principals, with good relationships of communication and collaboration. Please join me in praying that our Catholic schools and academies will faithfully carry out the mission of the New Evangelization, bringing our young members to a better understanding of their place in the world and in our Church.