Support Your Local (Home) School

Today my daughter, Sr. Mary Kate, a postulant-soon-to-be-novice with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is arriving for a one-week home visit. We are all so excited to welcome her home!

Amidst all the anticipation and preparations, I stumbled upon this article in the June 5, 2011 issue of Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly.  It’s about the tensions that sometimes exist between the Catholic homeschooling community and parochial schools. I’ll get back to Sr. Mary Kate in a minute.

There really aren’t any new insights in the article, but it does describe a troubling, recent controversy in the Diocese of Austin, in which the local homeschooling group invited the bishop to celebrate Mass to help kick off the school year. Unfortunately (in my opinion), the request was forwarded to the Catholic schools superintendent, who wrote:

“Bishop Vásquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall home-schooling blessing Mass. Bishop Vásquez believes Catholic education, and in particular Catholic school education, is an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin. As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the Church. Bishop’s presence at the home-schooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic home schooling; therefore, Bishop Vásquez must respectfully decline the invitation.”

My own family homeschooled for many years. We have also availed ourselves of public schools, parochial schools, and independent Catholic schools. I’ve previously addressed the issue of “Catholic school choice,” and I’ve also written this piece on homeschooling and sacramental preparation.

Parents have serious, primary responsibilities when it comes to the Christian formation of their children and in helping them discover their vocation in life (cf. Catechism, nos. 2221-31). It’s a gross misreading of Church teaching to assert that there’s only one way (e.g., parochial schools, homeschooling, etc.) to “get ‘er done.”  Parents need assistance, not guilt trips, especially in today’s challenging Church landscape.

I guess what bothered me about the OSV article is the claim that there are a dearth of vocations coming from homeschooling. Even if one can make the case, why do it? Anecdotally speaking, Sr. Mary Kate was homeschooled for ten years and considers her experience as having a significant influence on her vocation. She has several fellow postulants who likewise were homeschooled. This is in keeping with the statistics I’ve seen in recent years, though admittedly not all studies pay adequate attention to the phenomenon of homeschooling.

Let’s get past all our personal prejudices and stereotypes and in their place support all efforts to raise up the next generation of Christian disciples in the home–regardless of educational choices–so that we may truly build a new “culture of vocations.”

4 thoughts on “Support Your Local (Home) School”

  1. Nancy,
    I went through 10 years of “traditional” catholic school, and was the biggest critic of home Schooling ever! My aunt home schooled my 3 younger cousins and I would always say, “those poor kids, they’re living in a bubble” or “they are so sequestered from the rest of the world”. Little did I know of the whole WORLD of home schooling activities out there!!!
    I have two children, one is living on her own, and the second has been home schooled since the third grade. I guess you could kind of say he’s been an “only child” since we’ve been home schooling. I was worried about the “social areas” end of it too, but once you get started, you realize that there are SO many activities available to do with other kids (sometimes you wish there was a day off from them!(o: ).
    I only ever hear positive comments about my son and what a great kids he is (a little bias there perhaps?!). I even have an aunt that was a public school teacher for a while. For a long time she, let’s just put it this way, let me know she wasn’t pleased with our choice to home school. But after being around my son and his home school friends for a while, I have actually heard her sing the praises of how great home school kids are to friends and family.
    Give home schooling a try! You CAN do it, and your daughter will benefit GREATLY!!
    P.S. Did I mention how AWESOME it is to be the one to be able to see your child learn right before your eyes?! Why should some teacher get that privelige?

  2. Where you live, the number and gender of your kids, the educational opportunities available in your locale, your own gifts and talents, the specific educational needs and challenges of your child(ren), your support network, etc. are just a handful of ingredients that, guided by the Holy Spirit, go into the discernment process. I would say, Nancy, that a decision to homeschool is not a decision to deprive your child in social areas. But you’re right in terms of seeing that part of the child’s formation as needing some attention. During school, the child does school, and probably finishes early (most homeschooling kids do). Then there are opportunities not only for hobbies and play (perhaps with neighbor kids and/or other homeschooling kids), but also service, sports, scouting, events sponsored by the local homeschooling group, etc.

  3. Found in a comment on that article:

    “More vocations are coming from homeschoolers than any other group. A few years ago, the director of vocations in the Rockford diocese said that of 30 boys who graduated from home-schooling families between 2000 and 2005 in that diocese, seven entered the seminary, or 23%. If the same percentage existed for the 3,250 boys who graduated from Catholic high schools there would be about 750 preparing for the priesthood.”

  4. I struggle with this because of my experiences at public and parochial schools. My daughter is an only child and we wonder how homeschooling would help her in the social areas.

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