Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the June 10, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 8 - No. 44
50 Years Ago: April 29, 1960

Catholic education facing four critical challenges; Jesuit expert sees greater growth in 1960s

Buffalo N.Y. – Four critical challenges are identified with Catholic education in this year of the decennial census. They are: 1) the growth in population; 2) the demand for excellence, 3) the changing attitude of the American community toward things Catholic, and 4) the larger role of the laity in the Catholic school. Since 1940, Catholic school enrollment has increased 114 percent. Elementary and secondary schools enroll slightly more than 5,000,000 pupils, about 14 percent of the nation’s total. Despite these achievements, the ’60s bid fair to be the most challenging decade in the history of Catholic American education.

Father Neil G. McCluskey, S.J., an outstanding authority and writer in the educational field, detailed these challenges in an address of the annual commencement of Rosary Hill College. “There is a temptation,” he warned, “to look upon bigness as a guarantee of security and survival. It is not. If Catholic education is to flourish in the decades ahead, we must be ready to cope with them.”

Expanding population

Concerning growth in population, Father McCluskey noted that the population of the U.S. in the ’60s will rise from 180,000,000 to 207,000,000. Total school enrollment will increase to 25 percent with the high school part of the population doubling. “If Catholic school enrollment,” he said, “follows the national prediction, there will be between 6 million and 7 million children in Catholic schools by 1970.”

Father McCluskey, education editor of America, Jesuit weekly, cited the rising costs of construction and teachers’ salaries. The public school bill for 1959-60 is an estimated $15.5 billion. Officials of the National Education Association, he said, predict the figure will be $20 billion in 1965 and $30 billion by 1975. Catholic families, he noted, with three, four, or five school-age youngsters will particularly feel the burden of supporting two educational systems.

More than 5 million of today’s Catholic children – at least two-thirds of those of high school age and more than 40 percent of those of grade school age – are not in a Catholic school.

Excellence in schools

Concerning excellence, the Jesuit educator asserted that “Catholic schools in almost all dioceses compare very favorably and frequently excel the publicly supported school systems in the same areas. Where they do not, their difficulties often flow from straitened financial circumstances under which they are forced to operate.”

Regarding the widespread interest by the American community toward things Catholic, Father McCluskey called this phenomenon “indisputably real … and I am not referring to the fortunes of Catholic political leaders. The Church in the U.S. may be feared, hated, admired, or respected, but it is noticed. The nation is aware as never before of the Catholic presence and of Catholic schools. Yearly the contributions of our schools to the intellectual and cultural riches of our nation grow more impressive. Why is it, then, there is so little public recognition of the pressures upon Catholic schools and almost no discussion in public of how to help solve these problems?”

The larger role of the laity in the Catholic schools, the Jesuit educator pointed out, “is seen in the faculty structure. Today, Catholic schools employ 50,000 lay teachers, and the ratio is one lay teacher to every four Religious or priests. Between 1946 and 1960 in our grade schools, 2,768 lay teachers became 25,450. In the same period, high school lay teachers nearly tripled, going from 3,752 to 9,465.”

More lay teachers

“If the proportion of the Catholic school population remains constant,” Father McCluskey said, “it is predicted that by 1970 there will be more lay teachers than Sisters in the parochial school system.” This estimate is made on the present number of preschool children, plus the anticipated number of births, the rate of Sister vocations, and the rate of increase in lay teachers. In 1971 there will be an estimated 121,000 Sister teachers and 137,000 lay teachers.


From the Inland Register
Volume 42 – No. 24
25 Years Ago: June 20, 1985

Foundation distributes 44 grants this year

Forty-four grant recipients have been selected by the Catholic Foundation to receive funds as a result of the grant distribution program of the Catholic Foundation of the Spokane Diocese. More than $55,000 has been allocated by the Spokane Diocese. More than $55,000 has been allocated by the Board of Directors of the Foundation to parishes, parochial schools and Catholic agencies serving the Diocese of Spokane. This is the third annual distribution of funds by the Foundation.

The funds were made available from the Foundation’s General Unrestricted Fund and the Marycliff Educational Endowment Fund.

Bishop Welsh will present grant recipients with checks ranging from $500 to $4,000 at an awards ceremony planned for Thursday, July 25, at the Chancery.

“I support and approve the Board of Director’s funding recommendations. With increasing financial pressures facing our parishes, schools and other diocesan groups, I see the Foundation’s endowment program as an essential resource to continue the many diverse works of our Church,” said Bishop Welsh.

The 1985 grant distribution program was enhanced greatly by the addition of the funds from the sale of the Marycliff High School property in Spokane. The proceeds from this sale are being used to create a permanent endowment fund within the Catholic Foundation to serve the needs of Catholic religious education in Eastern Washington. Allocations from the Marycliff fund are specifically for educational programs of the various parishes. Eventually, the corpus of the Marycliff Fund will exceed $1.3 million. As in all endowed funds of the Foundation, only the earnings of the fund will be used. The principle is held intact. Of the $55,000 given out by the Foundation, $40,000 is supplied by the Marycliff Fund.

“I am pleased that the legacy of Marycliff High School continues to serve the educational needs of young people throughout our Diocese,” said Bishop Welsh.

The General Endowment Fund of the Foundation provided the additional $15,000 for the 1985 distribution program. Proceeds from this fund are used to serve a variety of Catholic programs and have been the primary source for the past two years for Foundation allocations.

According to Dan W. Murphy, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, the Foundation sought to make grants which reflected a broad regional base of Catholic organizations.

“More than 40 percent of the grants made this year serve projects outside the Spokane area or the diocese at large,” Murphy said. “It is important that the Foundation serve the needs of Catholics in Spokane as well as those of the parishes and missions in the furthest part of the diocese,” he said.

Murphy also noted that the Foundation distributes earnings to the various parishes and organizations that have a permanent endowment fund. Last year, over $58,000 was returned from the overall earnings of the Foundation investments.

The distribution for 1985 will occur after the close of the fiscal year, June 30. Currently, the Foundation manages over $1 million of endowment funds.

“The growth of the Catholic Foundation in the past five years has been significant,” said Murphy. “It provides a funding source for Catholic programs both in the diocese and the individual parishes as well.”

(Father Caswell is the diocese’s Ecumenical Relations Officer and archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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