What does Boston, Massachusetts have in common with Dayton, Ohio? A very high expectation of quality Catholic Education in both cities has been a solid parallel until recent years. For generations, children were educated by the same Catholic teachers that taught their parents and their parents before them. The Catholics have counted on handing down the beliefs, traditions and important decisive practices in keeping with the doctrines and commandments set forth by the Pope. A disastrous dilemma negatively changed how Catholics would practice their faith. We're all familiar with it - the Catholic Priest abuse scandal.
What's been occurring in both cities as well as around the world is that enrollment within all levels of privatized Catholic education has been steadily declining. It has been a disarming flow of distrust in the past patriarchal administrators in both the church and in Catholic education, uncertainty in faith and high costs in maintaining buildings and curricula which have also been deteriorating in quality. The numbers of parishioners who have remained financially faithful to the church have not been able to support the needed changes. It cost the Catholic faith a ton of money when they were forced to settle their past offenses as well as the undying trust that had once been given unconditionally.
While other religions are growing in fierce and diligent numbers, such as The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints - the Catholic religion has been pounded into the ground for several decades since their "truths" began being told of the scandals involving Catholic priests and the hidden abuses of young children. Catholics who were once staunch and strict supporters of every article of their faith have had questions that haven't been answered. How are the American Catholic families able to forgive and let go of the tragic personal assaults suffered by so many? How can they put their money into a source that has betrayed their parents and other loved ones? Other religious factions growing despite of themselves have gained power not only religiously, but in their own sources of religious education.
Perhaps the quality of what was once, "without question an excellent source" of education, social attainment, and physical affinity through sports the Catholic church has now had to trust in its newly formed Catholic foundation instead of the other way around. Now the Catholic community at large wants control and they feel it's the only way they can begin to forgive and heal. How much education will it take for the foundations of the new Catholic Community to feel safe in beginning to set forth changes? It's not easy to say.
Tightening their connections to the private and business sectors of these two major cities is part of the learning process. Becoming flexible enough to include instead of "exclude" students of different faiths into the once Catholic only schools is a starting point. I've personally seen a change within the city of Dayton, Ohio where the University of Dayton, a thriving and steadfast corner of Dayton's educational opportunity has reached out to connect to help solve the problems of Dayton's failing inner city schools. Working hand in hand, not only in promoting generosity and volunteerism amongst its student body, The University of Dayton's tuition rates have soared, but due to an earnest struggle to "learn" before understand what changes needed to be made.
It's not your Momma's Catholic Community anymore that's supporting the upscale campus renovations, while improving Dayton's inner city. Utilizing the gifts of diversity and tolerance combined with acceptance instead of rejection proves the student body isn't the same old world Catholic commodity either. It's refreshing to see hope within the ranks of the Catholics so full of energy and repose. Pride in their faith is abounding recently and I believe it's like offering water to those in drought. They can't get enough.
Perhaps the problems that seem to continually stagnate the public school systems in both cities and in other cities throughout our country will be embraced by such leaders in educational change around the world. I'm confident that the new stronger and educated Catholic religion will meet the basic needs of their communities which is currently very often outside of the Catholic faith, continue to grow through expectations of quality education and succeed once again in being a source of the highest possible quality of education offered.