New Report on Catholic Education in the Archdiocese Chronicles Progress over Last Five Years

September 12, 2013

The Archdiocese of Washington released a new report today that recounts the progress that has been made in its Catholic schools, parish religious education and adult catechetical programs over the past five years.

The report, Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Washington, 2008-2013, serves as a follow up to Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s pastoral letter on education, Catholic Education: Looking to the Future with Confidence, which he released in 2008.

In his pastoral letter, Cardinal Wuerl identified a strategy to conduct an assessment of the education ministry of the archdiocese and specific goals to help ensure the vitality of Catholic education in the archdiocese into the future. The report provides an update on the accomplishments to date, details the current challenges to Catholic education and recommends next steps to strengthen Catholic education in the future.

Highlights of the report include the significant achievements that have been made in Catholic schools since 2008. In 2009 the archdiocese created new policies for Catholic schools that have provided clear direction on school planning and operations, the quality of teaching has improved with 13 elementary schools receiving the Blue Ribbon award since 2007, and tuition assistance awarded to families has grown sixfold. However, a significant challenge continues for students in Catholic schools in the District – funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program is set to expire in 2016, creating uncertainty for the more than 800 students who use these scholarships to attend Catholic schools and their classmates.

Religious education programs have also significantly improved in the past five years due to the creation of a new archdiocesan religion curriculum with a corresponding assessment, along with improved
catechist formation programs. Also, more than 2,000 people have taken advantage of new online catechetical courses for adults that help them improve their knowledge of their faith, at their own pace.

“Catholic education, and particularly our Catholic schools, are a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in a culture marked by secularism, materialism and individualism,” said Cardinal Wuerl in the report’s introduction.

Almost 28,000 students attend the 96 Catholic schools in the archdiocese. This school year, the archdiocese has awarded $5.5 million in tuition assistance to students in Catholic schools.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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