Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Jennifer Hartline

5/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Catholic family is a homeschool. The only question is whether the children attend a school, in a addition, outside of the home

The "Catholic schools vs. Homeschool" attitude is tragic. Those who insist that Catholic parents have an obligation to send their children to Catholic schools need to stop guilt-tripping parents and impugning their motives and deal with reality. We're not the enemy of Catholic schools - we are Catholic schools.

Highlights

By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: homeschool, Catholic school, Church, education, Jennifer Hartline


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - The 2010-11 school year marked my first as a homeschooling mom.  For two years our daughters had attended Catholic schools, but this school year was the grand opening of the Hartline Academy for Girls.  It's been challenging, rewarding, frustrating at times, a steep hill to climb some days, but a blessing for all of us and we have no regrets.

I was quite dismayed - rather irritated, actually - to read the article in Our Sunday Visitor recently regarding the conflict between homeschool families in Texas and Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, as well as Ned Vanders, the Catholic schools superintendent.

It centers on a belief that Catholic parents are obligated to send their children to Catholic schools if there's a school in their area, and parents who do not are guilty of abrogating that obligation.  In other words, parents who choose to homeschool are committing a grave offense against Catholic schools.

The Holy Family Homeschoolers Association had invited Bishop Vasquez to celebrate a blessing Mass with them at the beginning of the next school year.  Curiously, the response didn't come from the Bishop's office but from Ned Vanders.
 
He wrote:  "Bishop Vasquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall home-schooling blessing Mass.  Bishop Vasquez 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 homeschooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic home schooling; therefore, Bishop Vasquez must respectfully decline the invitation.  Sincerely in Christ, Ned F. Vanders, E.D."

Respectfully, there was nothing respectful about Mr. Vanders' reply.  It was a thinly-veiled attack on the integrity of homeschoolers, the right of parents to make such a choice, and the validity of Catholic homeschooling.  It was insulting and dismissive.  And it still baffles me why Bishop Vasquez did not respond himself.  I sincerely hope the Bishop does not share Vanders's views on Catholic homeschooling.

(OSV reported that the Diocese of Austin declined interview requests for Vanders and Bishop Vasquez.)

It's disturbing that the Diocese of Austin has intentionally created an "us-versus-them" atmosphere regarding homeschooling families.  The OSV article went on to quote Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation.  Fr. Stravinskas is also not very supportive of homeschooling families.

Fr. Stravinskas says "the Church Fathers made clear that catechesis is the job of the whole Church, with the main responsibility resting on the shoulders of the pastor, not the parents."  I did a double-take upon reading that one, because it seems to me that runs contrary to Vatican II's Declaration on Christian Education which states that parents are the primary educators of their children. 

No pastor can replace parents, and no parish can substitute for the child's home.  Children will live what they've been taught to live at home.  If the Faith is lived and taught within the family, chances are good the children will "catch" it and nurture that Divine Love for themselves.  If home is a place where God and the Church are neglected or blasphemed, well, the children will surely catch that, too.

Fr. Stravinskas also says that "Catholic parents who choose to homeschool when there is a Catholic school available at least implicitly send the message that they do not trust the Church to educate their children properly, and the children get that message.  That leads to a subtle anti-clericalism because the children learn that priests cannot be counted on to hand on the faith.  It shows in what he sees as a dearth of vocations from homeschool families.  'Why would you want to join the club if its members can't be trusted to do their jobs?'"

First, I'd like to know exactly how many vocations are coming from Catholic school families compared with homeschool families.  I wouldn't be so quick to discount the homeschoolers.  The homeschool families I know would be elated to have a future priest or nun among their children!  I sure would!

But mostly this is just a continuation of the theme that it's the pastor's job to teach children, not the parents.  I disagree.  God has entrusted three souls to my husband and me to raise and teach, and we will be held accountable for how well we passed on the Faith.  The buck stops with us first, not our pastor.

A few more thoughts:  How many priests or nuns are in the classrooms of Catholic schools around the country?  If educating the children is their primary job, then why is it the Catholic schools my girls attended rarely ever saw the pastor assigned to the Church next door?  Why is it the children only attended Mass about once every other month?  Fr. Stravinskas is partially correct in his insight that many parents do not trust the Church to educate their children, though I would clarify that the church distrusted is likely the local parish, not Holy Mother Church.  

When a Catholic school does not make daily Mass, or at least weekly Mass, a priority for the formation of its students, then something is very wrong.  It's not a generic Christian education we're after, but a Catholic one, and that means the Eucharist, the liturgy, Mary and the saints.  That means Mass.  At my children's former school, Mass was more of a special occasion than the essence and foundation of the Faith.  Is that the catechesis I'm supposed to be satisfied with?

Finally, Fr. Stravinskas never really addresses the issue that begs to be confronted: the outrageous cost of Catholic education.  It is simply out of reach for most families.  Consider this: it cost us more money to put our daughter through 1st grade than it did for my husband to get a very demanding, high-tech Masters Degree from a major university.  Tuition for most Catholic elementary schools is just ridiculously expensive.  I'd wager that Fr. Stravinskas would declare the money well-spent because the quality of education is unmatched.  I would disagree again.

I am now using a homeschool curriculum that in my opinion far surpasses the curriculum used at our former Catholic school.  Not to mention the fact that homeschooling gives me the opportunity to tailor the instruction to each child, to emphasize what my child needs more, and quickly advance through what she needs less.  If I see my child struggling to understand something, we don't just move on ahead like a classroom teacher must.  The goal is to learn, not just get through a textbook.

The religious instruction we've gone through at home this year has been better than the catechesis they received in previous years.  The reading, vocabulary, English, math, spelling, history and science have all been outstanding, very thorough and completely faithful to the Magisterium.

The reality is we educated both our girls at home this entire school year for the cost of ONE MONTH of Catholic school.   And we only had two school-aged kids at the time - what about the families with 4, or 5, or 6 children in school at once?  In my opinion, this is an abysmal failure on the part of the Church.  If Catholic parents are expected to send their children to Catholic schools, then the Church had better get serious about making education the number-one priority and stop burdening Catholic families with thousands upon thousands of dollars in tuition every year.

The Diocese of Wichita has proven it can be done.  They are presently the only diocese in the country where children of active parish members can receive a K - 12 education tuition-free!  What's stopping every other diocese from doing the same thing?

Beyond the tuition, my husband and I honestly got sick to death of all the "extra" costs associated with the school.  We were required to purchase a certain amount of Scripp each month, plus participate in a Fundraising program (if we didn't sell enough of the fundraising stuff, we'd be charged a couple hundred dollars to cover our cost).  School lunches, field trips, different uniforms for winter and summer, etc, it all added up to a lot of money, and it got very annoying very quickly. 

I'll gladly admit I'm happy to be free of fundraising obligations, since I can't stand having to sell people over-priced stuff they don't need or want.  I'm happy to be saving lots of gas money each month since I'm not making two round-trips each day to a school 20 miles away.  

I'm happy not to have to worry about $40 sweaters getting lost or stolen.  I'm very happy not to be forced to change my shopping habits in order to purchase $200 of Scripp each month that I don't really want.  I wanted a Catholic education for my kids, not all these expensive and crazy requirements.

I'm not trying to bash all Catholic schools; I fully believe there are many excellent schools out there, and I want to see Catholic schools thrive.  I don't disagree at all that Catholic schools are essential to the Church and the mission of our time.  We're open to enrolling our kids in a great Catholic school in the future, if possible.

But if Fr. Stravinskas, Ned Vanders and Bishop Vasquez are going to insist that Catholic parents have an obligation to send their children to Catholic schools; if they're going to dismiss the validity of homeschooling and impugn the motives of homeschooling parents, then it's high time they faced reality and dealt with the legitimate reasons why many of us have chosen to teach our children at home. 

We're not trying to undermine the Church or our pastor's authority.  We love the Church.  We want our children to become priests, deacons and nuns and faithful Catholic adults.  We're not the enemy of Catholic schools - we are Catholic schools.

-----

Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three.  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


Two U.S. priests appointed by Pope Francis to address clergy sexual abuse Watch

Image of Father Oliver had previously served as a judge and promoter of justice in Boston tribunals and as a consultant to the Boston archdiocesan review board.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing the sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has appointed two U.S. priests to top positions at the Vatican. Father Robert W. Oliver, from Boston and Jesuit Father Robert J Geisinger, a member of the Chicago-Detroit ... continue reading


The truth about climate change

Image of Pope Benedict is known as the 'Green Pope' because of statements he has made on the environment. Pope Francis is also said to be working on an encyclical about the environment.

By Tony Magliano

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change .  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the ... continue reading


Cardinal George compares forcing of sexual agenda to Sharia law Watch

Image of Cardinal George compared American culture and government to Sharia law in the way it treats mainstream Christians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal George has criticized the imposition of a "public creed" to force acceptance of sexual depravity across the nation, enforced with the power of law. Cardinal George compared the forcing to Sharia law in some countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Head ... continue reading


Jesus Spent the Night In Prayer. Maybe We Should Follow His Example Watch

Image of Prayer is the most effective form of action for a Christian.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

What jumped off the page as I proclaimed the Gospel is the importance and priority of prayer. Before Jesus made this historic and eternal decision he spent the entire night in prayer. I know that in His Sacred humanity he shows us the pattern for our own lives. ... continue reading


Pope Francis, Vatican actively pursuing better relations with Mainland China Watch

Image of The status of the Church in Mainland China has long been a bone of contention between the Vatican and Chinese officials.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While as a nation it remains largely inscrutable and resilient to criticism in regards to human rights, Mainland China, along with both the Vatican and Pope Francis is now pursuing improved relations. The Pope hopes to warm their relationship and someday ... continue reading


Healing our Fractured Freedom Watch

Image of Christianity is the religion of freedom

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Let us consciously reflect on our own choices today. What informs our daily decisions? Do we seek to inform the exercise of our freedom with the truth? Are we aware of the effect of sin in our daily lives? Are we struggling against it and taking advantage of ... continue reading


We Do Not Shop for a Church, the Church is a Gift Watch

Image of The Church is not a commodity but a communion, a call into the very inner communion of the Trinity through Jesus Christ!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I understand that some people have been dissatisfied with their experiences of what is presented as Church in some circles. That was clear in a program that I listened to on my way home from Washington,DC.  However, the very notion that we can shop for a ... continue reading


Controversial Chick-fil-A founder dies at 93 Watch

Image of Fiercely Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fiercely Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years. The founder of the Chick-fil-A freely mixed his faith with his multi-billion dollar business, Chick fil-A. He took many unpopular stands that lost him ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Numbers 21:4-9
4 They left Mount Hor by the road to the Sea of Suph, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
1 [Psalm Of Asaph] My people, listen to my teaching, ... Read More

Gospel, John 3:13-17
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 14th, 2014 Image

St. Notburga
September 14: Patroness of poor peasants and servants in the Tyrol. Born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter