One of the things I did when I was pastor at of St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita was to give parishioners options when it came to the decision of Catholic school for their children. In 1969, we did away with tuition for both the elementary and the high school.
I have always been sympathetic with parents because so often you hear that only the wealthy can afford to send their children to Catholic schools. I wanted to get rid of that whole idea. To me, the school was an integral part of the parish, and it was a mission of the parish like anything else. Therefore, the entire parish had an obligation, then, to really support all of the parish missions, including the school.
We gave parishioners three options. First, if you joined the stewardship way of life, tuition was free. Secondly, if you didn’t want to join, then you paid full tuition. Third, if neither of these worked for you, you were instructed to come see the pastor.
What most parishioners don’t understand is just how much it costs to educate one child. Usually, the parish subsidizes the tuition, thereby making it less for parents. And, it costs a lot more now that the sisters are all gone, as they were paid about $50 a month. People got used to religious running the schools with low pay, and some haven’t adjusted to lay people who need be better supported financially for the same positions.
These are some of the reasons why it is important to continually ask ourselves, “How does God want us to really support His work on Earth?” Could taking a stewardship approach and supporting our parish schools be the way?
Editor’s note: The passing of our friend and longtime advisor Msgr. Thomas McGread in April was a tremendous loss to all who came to know him and work with him in developing stewardship as a way of life. But Msgr. McGread’s legacy will continue to live on through our work, through the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference in Wichita, Kan., and through this blog. We are fortunate to have in our archives many of his writings and teachings. The Catholic Steward will continue to share these with our followers as we continue to live Msgr. McGread’s vision for stewardship and evangelization in the Church.