Thursday, October 08, 2009


I am blessed to be part of a wonderful homeschool co-op that operates out of our parish and works with about 65 students. These students meet on a two ir three day per week schedule, six hours each day, and learn things that most college students never pick up. Logic, Latin, philosophy, biology, history, art, schola, theology and Scripture studies - everything necessary for the development of a well-balanced Catholic person. There is a healthy emphasis on the tradition of the Church in establishing Catholic identity, and liturgy and Catholic spirituality are fully integrated into the life of the students. It has been a truly wonderful experience to be identified with this program, and I am constantly amazed at the advanced level of cognitive achievement these kids reach. I can't imagine the Headmaster would oppose me promoting the program, so if you are curious, you can view their website here.

I bring this up because I believe that wherever you see the Catholic life being lived and the Church being restored, there you will find homeschoolers right in the midst of it. I am not denying that public and private school families also contribute to this, but I think it is fair to say that if you take parishes where orthodoxy is established, liturgy is reverent and Eucharistic devotion is practiced, you will see strong homeschooling communities. This has been my experience in southeast Michigan over the past ten years - is this what you people out there notice as well? Is a vibrant parish life concomitant with homeschooling in most situations you have witnessed?

The late Fr. John Hardon, SJ, who in my neck of the woods is already revered as a saint, made a similar observation when he said, "In my judgment, homeschooling is absolutely necessary for the survival of the Catholic Church in our country." While I originally saw homeschooling as more of a preferable option among many valid educational choices, I now see it as more essential to the preservation of Catholic identity. Sure, we may send our kids through public schools or private schools and have them maintain the Faith, but I think it is homeschooling that best way (and perhaps currently the only way) to maintain not only the Faith but the Catholic culture and community that goes with the Faith wherever a true "inculturation" has taken place.

I think we could say then that the renewal of the Church is intimately connected with the growth of Catholic homeschooling - 15,000 in 1970 to near 2.7 million in 2007. Part of this increase, I think, is due to a renewed emphasis in recent times by the Church of the "primary duty" of the parents as main educators of their children. This gave Catholic parents the pastoral support and impetus they needed to encourage their choice in homeschooling (since in most places, there was no support from diocesan or parochial officials). The following statement from Familiaris Consortio is the foundational principle of the Catholic homeschooling movement:

The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others (FC, 36).

The drastic rise of homeschooling in the Catholic Church is one of the surest signs of renewal, and wherever homeschooling is encouraged you will find orthodoxy, morality, intellectual growth and the blossoming of vocations. Besides being intrinsically better than public schooling from an academic point of view, it is an essential tool in the building up of the Church.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How blessed are you to be involved with a Catholic Homeschooling Parish! We are the sole Catholic homeschoolers in our town and parish. The closest city to us which is 30 miles away, has only two families. We drive an hour and a half to assist at a TLM where there are many homeschooling families, but we can't spend a lot of time with them. Don't ever take what you have for granted!
Suzanne from Oklahoma