Recently the local press reports that two more Catholic schools are closing this year: St. Matthew’s in Cranston and Holy Ghost in Providence. Changing demographics, rising healthcare costs, weak economy are all highlighted as reasons. Catholic education is becoming less present in our cities and working class areas. With each closing I begin to ponder where will this all end. Here at St. Luke’s we are lucky with our excellent principal, dedicated teachers and active parent base. Our 270 students are exposed every day to Gospel values in a nurturing environment. But for this to continue we need to be vigilant. In past days the Church was rich in personnel. Plenty of priests, nuns and brothers taught in our schools for practically nothing. Treasure was minimal but religious talent was abundant. Now the situation has changed. The Catholic population has risen in status. We populate professions like medicine, law and business. We are richer in treasure, weaker in time and professional talent (fewer priests, nuns, brothers). This does in no way denigrate the talent and dedication of our lay teachers. Will those with treasure support the ministry of Catholic education? Every once in a while I see bumper stickers on cars that say, “I survived Catholic School.” Everybody laughs a bit and gets the joke. I personally did not survive Catholic school – I thrived! Perhaps if more people told their stories of thriving in our schools we will see a resurgence in this important ministry in our day.
Fr. Bob Hawkins