FALL RIVER — Catholic schools across the country are celebrating Catholic Schools Week, as has been the tradition since 1974. The past couple of years have been extremely challenging for all educational systems, but never before has the uniqueness of Catholic education been actively sought out by new families. According to the most recent annual report from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), national enrollment in Catholic K–12 schools increased by nearly four percent for the 2021-2022 school year, the biggest enrollment increase the NCEA has ever observed.
Despite the challenges of the past couple of years, the Diocese of Fall River Catholic schools have much to celebrate. Moreover, the diocesan Catholic Schools Office dedicates this year’s Catholic Schools Week to celebrating the principals who have led each Catholic school through these unprecedented times. Thus, this year’s diocesan theme for Catholic Schools Week is “Rediscover Your Catholic School Principal,” which encourages all families to recognize the leadership and commitment these women and men have given to the 19 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fall River. Each school will launch a video narrated by the principal that explains the unique qualities of their school as well as the beauty of Catholic education.
“Catholic Schools Week is a wonderful way for families to learn more about Catholic education and its unsurpassable value to our country for more than 200 years,” said Daniel S. Roy, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fall River. “Our Catholic school leaders, educators, and staff members embrace a mission that endures with a new relevance in our time. I welcome all families to view the principals’ videos as a way to get to know our leaders, encounter our schools, and share our excitement for the excellent work that they do.”
According to Anne Dailey, principal of St. Pius X School in Yarmouth, “Our children have just lived through a very difficult two years. Not only have they faced the pandemic, they face a society where there is a lot of tumult which creates a situation where you need serenity. Our students need a place where they are going to be guided by their faith as well as a safe place where they will be taught values and a Catholic school setting can provide that.”
Affordability is a major concern for many new families as they engage in learning more about the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fall River. Christina Duggan, Vice President of Operations for the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, indicated, “Each of our elementary schools encourage families to apply to the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE), which helps reduce the cost of tuition by providing scholarships. For this school year, more than 1,000 students have received a needs-based award, which in many cases has reduced tuition by more than 30 percent and for many schools, this can result in a monthly tuition payment of $300 or less. Awards are determined by a family’s financial circumstances at the time of application. FACE scholarships help reduce the tuition cost and, in the end, families realize that a Catholic education is well worth the investment. Families are encouraged to apply by the deadline of March 24, 2023 for the best chance of receiving an award as funds are limited.”
Other concerns that have been expressed by interested families are special education services for their children. The Diocese of Fall River has made great strides in supporting all types of learners by partnering with the S.E.A.L. Foundation, who oversees or supports the certified special education professionals across the diocese. More than 90 percent of the Diocese of Fall River Catholic schools provide some sort of accommodations for students who learn differently.
While Catholic schools across the country have weathered many challenges over the past few decades, there is no doubt that Catholic schools are still valued and necessary in today’s educational landscape. Whether a family’s interest in Catholic education is due to the rigorous academics, or for the formation of the whole child, Catholic schools continue to provide students and families with a faith-filled community that lives the teachings of Jesus Christ every day.
For more information about the Catholic Schools Alliance or to view principal videos, please go to www.catholicschoolsalliance.org/catholic-schools-week-2023