April 15, 2011

Catholic Education Outreach / G. Joseph Peters

Catholic education and faith formation by the numbers

The educational mission of the Church in central and southern Indiana is simply stated as learning, teaching and sharing our faith.

The Church’s mission is accomplished with the guidance of our chief teacher, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, facilitated by the staff of the Office of Catholic Education, and led locally by the pastors and administrators in our parishes and schools.

Most of us experience Catholic education and faith formation at the parish level, but what does the total ministry look like? What is the size and scope of our catechetical and educational programs aside from the instruction in faith that occurs in our celebrations of the Mass? You may be surprised at this “by-the-numbers” analysis of our efforts.

The archdiocese encompasses 39 counties in southern and central Indiana or 13,738 square miles. Across that area, there are 151 parishes serving 224,962 Catholics within a total population of more than 2.4 million people or 9.26 percent of the total population. Last year, 3,919 infants were baptized as well as 847 minors/adults baptized and 536 people received into the full communion of the Church through RCIA programs—a total of 5,302 new parishioners.

There are 189 people who serve as faith formation leaders. Last year, 1,814 trained volunteer parish catechists taught religious education to 12,305 students in preschool through grade 8. Some 83 parishes included persons with special needs in regular catechetical programs. The Special Religious Development program for the developmentally disabled is offered in 32 parishes, and 93 parishes sponsored adult education programs in which 13,827 people participated.

Youth ministry programs for high-school-aged youths are found in 117 parishes and are led by 591 adult volunteers. Also, 2,645 teenagers prepared for the sacrament of confirmation last year.

There are 69 Catholic schools in the archdiocese, including 58 elementary schools and 11 high schools. Seven high schools and 27 elementary schools are located in Marion County. There are seven interparochial high schools, four private high schools and one private elementary school.

A total of 22,019 students attend Catholic schools in the archdiocese in 2010-11, and 1,721 professional staff members serve in the schools. About 10 to 15 percent of the students are non-Catholic. In our five Indianapolis center city schools, including the four Mother Theodore Catholic Academies, 67 percent of the students are minorities, 40 percent are non-Catholic, and 72 percent are eligible for free/reduced price lunch.

Catholic schools in the archdiocese, all accredited by the state, rank as one of the largest “school districts” in Indiana.

Some 443 trained high school peer mentors teach abstinence until marriage lessons to more than 3,500 middle school students in our chastity program, A Promise to Keep.

The high school graduation rate is 98.2 percent, and 97.4 percent of graduates enter higher education.

The total cost of operating archdiocesan Catholic schools—not including private schools—is estimated at $100 million a year, resulting in an estimated savings to Indiana taxpayers of around $214 million.

As you can see, learning, teaching and sharing our faith are significant commitments of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis that can be easily quantified.

(G. Joseph Peters is the associate executive director of Catholic Education for the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education.)

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