Connection of home-schooling and entering seminary

A study shows that men who are home-schooled enter the seminary at a higher rate than those who were in Catholic schools.

1 in 10 priests were home-schooled at some point and are 4 times more likely to enter seminary than those educated in Catholic institutions.

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  1. rdb says:

    Almost 20 percent of the seminarians at our seminary were home-schooled. It isn’t rocket science.

  2. bibi1003 says:

    I’m not at all surprised by this. Catholic homeschoolers are heroes. At the Catholic high school my two nieces and my nephew attend, the holy trinity is diversity, tolerance and inclusivity. My youngest niece told me last week that her history teacher is a die-hard feminist and treats the boys in her class harshly. In contrast, the school’s priest is warm and fuzzy and tries to be cool by getting the kids to sing hymns to the tunes of rock songs. All three kids hated their confirmation classes, which were nothing but videos of Matthew Kelly’s Decision Point program. They knew it was fluff without substance and they said so. We have a bishop who was proud to be a speaker at last year’s New Ways Ministry conference but won’t tell us what he said. Vocations from this diocese? Uh-uh.

  3. yatzer says:

    Not surprising considering what my kids learned (not) in Catholic school.

  4. will99lang says:

    I know a family who had eight children, all home-schooled, five of which are boys. Of these five, four want to enter (or are in) seminary. Not bad.

  5. Bthompson says:

    Similar joke, a former classmate of mine said the three Theological virtues of modernity are Diversity, Open-mindedness, and Affirmation; and the greatest of these is Affirmation.

  6. APX says:

    1 in 10 isn’t that many. That’s only 10%. 90% of priests weren’t homeschooled. In my own personal experience, priests who weren’t homeschooled, didn’t enter seminary right away, and lived and worked in the world for some years after have greater prudence and understanding of living the faith out in the real world where you have to live your life as a lay person.

  7. KateD says:

    “You say you wana revolution, well you know….”


    My kids say Sir Paul looks like a homeschooler….

  8. Cjrs_79 says:

    I do have a comment and a question: I am finding my way to tradition, but I am anti-gun and I despise Donal Trump. But I feel like if I am to be a traditionalist catholic I must be a 2nd amendment supporter and accept this horrible person as a president. [These are not connected.]

    I feel like I am pushed aside. Can I be a traditionalist who is against the 2nd amendment? we could have our differences, but we can agree Jesus never talked about automatic guns. [We can also agree that after the Last Supper, Our Lord told the Apostles, that if they didn’t have a sword, to sell their cloaks and to buy one.]

    I feel like I can’t be a traditional Catholic unless I am for “gun ownership”. Father: I am all for the God given right to protect ourselves, but can we disagree on what that means? For some people it could be grenades. For me: I don’t think assault weapons are needed. [All of these things can be discussed.]

    Does that make me less traditional?

    [“Being “traditional”, I think, includes the use of reason and reasonable discussion. Libs, not so much. They impose and restrict. True trads, I think, don’t have that restrictive approach when it comes to legitimate options. When it comes to things that are intrinsically evil, our options are extremely narrow. However, when it comes to contingent moral choices which allow for many different solutions, we can and must have a reasonable discussion. What to do about “the poor”? People can have different views. What to do about “guns”? People can have different views. What to do about “the environment”? People can have different views. What to do about “abortion”? … Not so much. “Homosexual” sex? … Not so much. “Tax rates”? People can have different views.]

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  10. benedetta says:

    As someone who homeschooled after already trying out the Catholic school option for a few years, I would hazard to guess at the reasons for this. One has to do with the general day to day life of homeschooling as compared to any institutionalized school setting. Homeschools are free to follow the liturgical calendar as a way of life, much as clergy do, whereas the faith even in a Catholic school that reliably teaches the Faith is to a degree somewhat compartmentalized. It’s a “Mass day” or it isn’t. It’s a major holiday or not. Religion class has to take a back seat to other subjects to remain competitive in test results and other measures. Homeschools read through the eyes of faith. The literature one is exposed to in a typical homeschool curriculum is so much, a thousand times, better and more conducive to reflective upon the things that are important and matter than what is utilized in schools right now. The less institutionalized schedule of homeschooling allows for reflection time, prayer interspersed into the day organically, following the Church’s liturgical calendar in the details ad day by day. Finally, the peer culture of homeschoolers generally much more supports and aims after vocation than does the peer culture in schools. Just some points I think worth considering.

    My homeschooler will be 18 this June. It’s been a wonderful adventure and well worth the sacrifices, I think. I feel that at the end of my life I can be proud of what I did as a mother for the son the Lord gave me. My pocketbook has not been enriched, but our souls have, and that makes all the difference, in my choice to stay in the home and conduct a homeschool. Homeschooling has permitted my child to pursue a passion for music and he is proficient in two instruments and voice and participates in a youth choir. I know many others who are doing the same with music or other talents. And yes, he has said matter of factly in discussions about his future, unprovoked by myself, that whatever route he chooses that he will of course discern a vocation. Deo Gratias! It surpasses all my hopes and plans for this child.

    A plug: We have worked with Angelicum Great Books for several years. Check out the fantastic literature list! Wherever my son winds up, I know that a solid curriculum in the great books has taught him to think and reflect, and he has his faith, solidly. He is ready to meet life’s challenges so equipped. We homeschoolers are greatly indebted to those who built these Catholic homeschooling curriculum for our edification, those pioneers at Seton, Kolbe, Angelicum, Catholic Heritage, and others.

  11. CradleRevert says:

    I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of ‘Catholic’ educational institutions are indistinguishable from most public schools.

  12. Ave Maria says:

    My brother is at a FSSP parish and their new holy priest was home-schooled, attended a military academy and was in the military and now is a wonderful priest.

    And although my son does not seem to have a vocation to the priesthood, I homeschooled him for a while using Seton Homeschool and learned a lot myself!

  13. ASPM Sem says:


    10% is a lot when only 3.5% of kids are homeschooled nationally.

  14. byzantinesteve says:

    I’m reasonably certain that you can belong to a traditional Catholic community (or any parish, for that matter) and no one will ever quiz you about your stance on gun control.

    If you don’t make it an issue among those in your parish, it will not be an issue.

    If, however, you choose to very publicly voice your opinion on the matter (because you think you must be anti gun to be pro-life or the “seamless garment” or whatever), you can expect pushback and hostility since many traditional Catholics are also philosophical conservatives who are pro 2A.

  15. Archlaic says:

    Shh! Don’t tell Pope Francis, lest we be treated to diatribes against “rigid, unreconstructed, semi-pelagian, nostalgic, amateur teacher’s-manualists”!

    All kidding aside, the takeaway here is not that 90% of priests aren’t homeschooled while “only” 10% are, but that this ratio is disproportionate to the population at-large. The most recent stats I’ve heard indicate that 3.4% of American children are homeschooled… being an unlettered laic I’ll have to ask one of my homeschooled kids how to express this mathematically, but I think it does illustrate that homeschooling families are In fact “punching above their weight” in terms of nurturing vocations…

  16. Clinton says:

    “1 in 10 isn’t that many. That’s only 10%. 90% of priests weren’t homeschooled.”

    APX, the most recent figures from the US Dept. of Education have the percentage of
    American school-age children being homeschooled at 3.4%. Now, I’m not sure if
    there’s a significant difference between the % of Catholic kids being homeschooled
    and the general population, but assuming there isn’t much difference, those figures
    mean that while homeschooled kids account for 10% of seminarians, they account
    for only 3.4% of school-age population. In other words, homeschooled kids are about
    3X more likely to enter seminary than kids who aren’t homeschooled. That’s not

  17. frjim4321 says:

    I would think that quality and quantity both are rather important. How are the H/S priests doing five years after ordination, beginning their second assignment. How are they getting along with others? Are they able to minister effectively with all age groups, and both women and men? Are they accommodating of other, equally valid and faithful ecclesiologies? Are they welcoming of various devotional/spiritual approaches?

    [equally valid and faithful ecclesiologies?… whatever those might be.]

  18. Riddley says:


    I would try to detach the different subjects if I were you. I’m English myself, and I too have been struck by the way that American Catholic media seem to lump in Latin Mass traditionalism with 2nd Amendment stuff and Republicanism. Without getting into the rights and wrongs of it, I’d just like to point out that you don’t have to treat the different subjects are being interlinked just because that’s the way they are sometimes presented.

    In Britain and in Europe (and for that matter in Asia, Africa, and Scandinavia) there’s no such association. The English traddie Catholics I know are quite a diverse bunch, and their political views differ quite a bit. I’m a clay-pigeon-shooting Tory myself (that’s one of the reasons I like Father Z!), but I’m not especially typical.

    Donald Trump, in particular, is just one man at a particular time in history who you may or may not choose to vote for. The Church’s liturgy is much, much bigger than that, much bigger and older and more solid than anything in comtemporary politics. It would be a crying shame to be put off something that profound because of some transient political coincidences.

  19. benedetta says:

    APX, typically the Church has looked to the Catholic schools as a conduit to seminary, so it is quite remarkable that homeschooling has a strong showing at all in the vocations numbers. I think given the crises here we face, more pronounced in some places than others and more of a problem to the faithful in some places than in others, we cannot afford to discount any routes to vocation that seem promising. Some have, for instance, discounted Eucharistic adoration as a means toward growing vocations where drastically needed, to the faithful’s detriment.

  20. maternalView says:

    Oh my gosh that comment is sooo 25 years ago.
    It doesn’t take much effort to discover that concern is baseless especially since there’s been a wealth of information published over the last couple of decades about the success of homeschooled individuals in all walks of life.

    What I’ve never understood is why the same concerns aren’t expected of public schooled people? Considering the dismal track record of public schools why is homeschooling always subject to higher standards?

    As far as the specific questions you suggested, I know, as many probably do, individuals who might be challenged in those areas (in ministry or other areas of work). Considering the minuscule number of homeschooled people I’d hazard a guess that those people were public schooled ( especially the older ones).

    It’s interesting how a bias against homeschooling affects peoples’ expectations. I know people who don’t think much of homeschooling. If they meet a homeschooled child their attitude and opinion of that child and family is different than the family they meet but don’t know are homeschooling. That’s because they think there’s only one kind of homeschooling and don’t know many homeschooling and aren’t interested in knowing any different.

    I’ve never understood why so many people are bothered by families who homeschool. The number of homeschooling families is so small that the success or failure of those individuals will have little or no impact on society generally. The failure of public schools continues to impact all of society. But let’s worry about the homeschooled.

    The religious and non-religious homeschooled approach life differently. That is hard for some to reconcile I guess.

  21. Sawyer says:

    @frjim4321, in my experience the quality of aging priests of a certain generation who went to Catholic and public schools before homeschooling became popular leaves very much to be desired. No need for you to bash young homeschooled seminarians and priests prematurely with (jealous or threatened?) speculation casting aspersions on their quality. The era of Fr. James Martin and the like is coming to an end (but not soon enough!). They will be replaced with well-formed, devout, earnest, zealous, orthodox, faithful, knowledgeable, courageous, holy priests who love Christ, his Church, the truth she teaches and all of God’s people.

  22. Dear Fr. Jim (?—frjim4321),

    You might ask the same set of questions about priests who were not home schooled. I am not optimistic that the conclusions would be much superior, if at all, to the home-schooled. At least that has been my experience. My “data base” are the vocations to my province over the last 35 years. In the end, the conclusions seem to be more the result of preconceived stereotypes than actual experience.

  23. hwriggles4 says:

    I do have friends who homeschool and some do the “hybrid” which seems to work. One thing I like about homeschool is the kids don’t end up doing “busy work”. I say this because I remember my junior high experience (late 70s) where I was the kid who got in his share of trouble with teachers and others because we were just repeating topics from previous years, particularly math and English.

    Homeschool parents also need to keep good records (I have heard that my southern state is more user friendly than other states to homeschoolers) on coursework, and look at things to participate in outside of the classroom. There are homeschool choirs and sports leagues in my city, and some of the boys are Squires, Troops of St George, etc. Several colleges want to see leadership positions and outside activities.

    Some homeschool kids and graduates I have met are well adjusted, self reliant, not afraid of adults, well read, khakisand have their faith intact. However, some parents can be extreme “helicopter parents” who baby their kids that their kids have a difficult time on their own. Parents need to have “balance” and realize they can’t watch their kids 24/7/365.

  24. hwriggles4 says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s a few things:

    1. Quite a few military families are homeschooling. Some say with all the moving around, it’s oftentimes a good option.

    2. I don’t make $500K/yr, but even if I did I would have to seriously consider – is it worth me paying $20K/yr minimum to send my son (s) or daughter (s) to XYZ Catholic College Prep School?

    3. My parish has a homeschool group where the pastor gives it some support, and a few other parishes in my area have a homeschool group too.

  25. benedetta says:

    Frjim4321, As far as “quality”, I as a mother can attest to the character of a huge number of homeschooled youth. I can, at least, go so far as to say the ones I know wouldn’t fathom being so insulting to others online as you are here.

  26. LeeGilbert says:

    Here I would like to suggest that Catholic families (and the Church) can have many of the benefits of homeschooling without taking on all the rigor of homeschooling itself. If we were to tease out what factors in homeschooling are producing vocations, I think we would find that there are several practices easily imitable by a far wider demographic than the homeschooling population. These could be promoted under the rubric of semi-homeschooling, or even better under the rubric of Family Evenings Together.

    First of all, I would be very surprised if virtually all of the homeschooling population has not gotten rid of their televisions. That one decision immediately kills the systematic secularization of the Catholic family and their children. Almost of itself it creates a prayerful, peaceful, joyful home. It makes prayer possible. It creates a vacuum that be readily filled with good things, for example the Family Rosary, reading out loud together, singing together.

    Secondly, I would be surprised if the literature read in a Catholic homeschooling family is not substantially upbeat, classical, and has a preponderance of the the lives of the saints. These families are accomplishing, deliberately or not, the baptism of the imagination. The imagination is the practical intellect and when it has been formed by the lives of the saints, it has a fund of examples to draw on when coming to the crossroads of life.

    And finally, these families are typically giving their children a traditional catechetical formation. This catechetical formation is enlivened and made real by the lives of the saints, and in turn explains them.

    All this conduces to producing vocations and can easily be implemented in a non-homeschooling family by every evening:

    a. Reading upbeat classical lit to the children for half an hour, e.g. The Chronicles of Narnia, the Swiss Family Robinson.
    b. Reading full, booklength lives of the saints for half an hour.
    c. Doing twenty minutes of catechism.

    Since my wife, a teacher, was adamantly against homeshooling, this is the program we followed for many years. Did it pay off? Our daughter has been a solemnly professed Carmelite for six years now, and our son and his family are both practicing the faith and homeschooling.

    For many people homeschooling is out of reach and a hard sell. Family Evenings Together, on the other hand, is both do-able and attractive.

    Of course, our program went by the boards on warm summer evenings when the children wanted to play outdoors. But winter, rain and darkness were ever our friends and made possible the happiest years of my life. We had a blast.

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    Unanchored statistics don’t mean much. If 40 people out of 100 homeschoolers become priests, but 100 people out of 1000 Catholic school children become priests, one could say that the rate for homeschoolers becoming priests is four times greater 40% vs. 10%, but in terms of absolute numbers, the Catholic school children would, still, constitute a larger raw number (in this hypothetical case, 71% of the total). The homeschool and Catholic school kids are different population groups, so these sorts of statistics do not convey the whole picture. According to, the number of boys being homeschooled is dropping. In 1999, it was 49 boys to 51 girls; in 2007, it was 42 boys for 58 girls. Thus, the statistics cited cannot be realistic, because the base ratio of boys to girls is not constant. The smaller the percentage of boys, the greater the apparent effect, but, in reality, fewer boys at entering the priesthood from any route, I suspect (has anyone done such a study?).

    I love homeschooling. I used to work as a homeschool teacher for advanced subjects. One has to be careful to interpret statistics in context, however. Homeschooling tends to produce more reverent children, so the boys may be more likely to consider seminary, but homeschooled kids are in demand by colleges and many get quite nice scholarships. In other words, while the homeschool environment is insular, once they leave the nest, the pull of the secular world can be pretty strong.

    What is missing is a longitudinal study to track the differences between secular, religious, and homeschool educated people throughout life.

    The Chicken

  28. JKnott says:

    We have a very large and active home schooling group in my area. I do not home school but I do volunteer at an annual picnic that we give for the whole group to help out the moms for a nice rest day. One of the most outstanding surprises that I observed among all the children regardless of age group was their truly remarkable ability and desire to relate with interest, ease and maturity to all age groups especially adults. They were observant and caring for the younger ones just so naturally. Happy, and respectful in their fun and conversations.
    This is no exaggeration. So I never understand why there is a standard sort of objection, maybe just a presumption, that home schooled children can’t relate socially. In my lived experience that notion is the antithesis of fact.
    Many families have several children of various age groups and it makes sense that they relate better than kids encapsulated in their own one age group. The children seem to learn a mature responsibility for the care of one another.
    This makes them ideal for living the life of a religious in communities where one needs to experience all types and ages. It also would seem to be ideal for the priesthood.
    Just my hands on experience.

  29. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Jim: “Are they accommodating of other, equally valid and faithful ecclesiologies? Welcoming of various devotional/spiritual approaches? ”

    I certainly hope not. For I’m sure a priest of whom you’d answer Yes is one whose orthodoxy is questionable.

  30. Malta says:

    This will sound unconnected at first, but it’s not. I’m a former FBI Special Agent who studied with the CIA in Horsham, PA. I’m now dealing with a satanic cult where a young girl is being sexually abused by her teacher, who is part of this cult. I’m in contact with local and Federal law enforcement. If she had been home schooled, this would not have happened. I would tell any parent out there to home school your kids; it’s pretty wicked out there.

  31. kurtmasur says:

    In light of Cjrs_79’s comment, perhaps this is a great opportunity to highlight that being “conservative” can have many variations based on one’s geographical location. While being a conservative in America might mean that one is very likely to be pro-2nd Amendment and pro-guns, I doubt tradtional catholics in Europe are pro-gun as this is not a big deal in that continent… In fact, most people in Europe are baffled by the USA’s 2nd Amendment and don’t see any point in having it. Each geographic place has different baggages, and the people there will form their views based on the local baggage.

  32. mike cliffson says:

    I am pro homeschooling, and I suspect that more vocations will always come from home schoolers for many reasons, some mentioned above by @benedetta.
    But to be fair, Catholic education ,as opposed to same old with Catholic in the
    name , would nurture more vocations better then the latter in the process of passing on the faith better, inculcating love of god and of man more primarily , and so forth. living the sacraments more within the school day , living differently distinctively and under attack,………

  33. Sportsfan says:

    The two young men from our parish in seminary were both home schooled. Three of the four young men from our deanery at our archdiocese seminary were homeschooled. I don’t know the fourth personally, he may have been also.

    It’s kind of funny to see the stereotypes and assumptions about people who were homeschooled from frjim4321 and APX. If you think people that were homeschooled are more backward or can’t work well with others then you must not know very many people that were homeschooled.

    In my experience, priests that enter seminary at an early age do much better. The two men that I know that have left the priesthood both worked in the “real world” before entering seminary.

  34. Kathleen10 says:

    The American media does it’s part to present anything authentically Catholic as throwbacks to a bygone era. If you are encountering media, you need to know you are getting propaganda, and be skeptical about what you are hearing. They hate Republicans with a passion and Donald Trump in particular. He wasn’t supposed to win. The whole power structure had an epic earthquake and can’t recover from it. The media would be sunshine and rainbows if Democrats were in power.
    The media wants to present Second Amendment supporters as Cro-Magnon man because that’s what the powers that be dictate, and they implement it. The fact is that Americans want and will keep our Second Amendment rights simply because we value them and they are ours by birthright. Period. Others are free to feel whatever way they want. The Left has done a great job of making Europeans and Americans feel rotten about who they are and the amazing cultures they came from. This may be why Europeans show such malaise even though their homelands are being buried under an invasion by Islam. They don’t seem to feel they have a right to exist nor that they have anything worth defending, even themselves or their children or their own future.
    This was about homeschooling, but as long as it came up…

  35. Colm says:

    While of course, it’s the parents’ right to decide how their kids are educated, we shouldn’t be pushing homeschooling to the detriment of our Catholic Schools. Instead, we need to work with orthodox priests to restore these schools. Especially in urban dioceses, Catholic schools are an underutilized resource. If we can help these schools reclaim a strong Catholic identity, imagine how we can change the culture.

  36. Charivari Rob says:

    It’s an interesting story that I’ve seen linked in a couple of places now, with some ups and downs to it.

    I love hearing Cathedral Prep mentioned. My late father’s old school – both Cathedral High and Cathedral College – so it’s a happy association for me.

    I’m not 100% sure what the video meant about the young man “applying to the seminary in Douglaston”. If I recall, they closed the college a couple of decades ago and merged the seminary with the Archdiocese of NY a few years back. I think they have some sort of residential discernment program for young men attending other colleges (like Saint John’s University), so maybe that’s what they’re talking about. Odd, though, that a NY source (Currents) didn’t make it clear.

    It’s a little tough to sort out the numbers claims, since neither Currents NY (the source of the video) nor Catholic Herald (that was the article another blog (Deacon’s Bench) linked to) bothered to link to the actual CARA study.
    I had my doubts about “1 in 10 priests”, since that would mean current priests of a broad range of ages and I don’t think home-schooling was as prevalent during all those years. “1 in 10 of those entering seminary, though – that seems more plausible.
    Also, it appears that it’s actually “1 in 12” – about 8%. It’s still good and impressive news – I just wish news outlets with a Catholic interest would resist the urge to either pad the numbers or dumb things down.

    It’s hard to get the full picture since the articles don’t mention all of the other numbers (and don’t specify when it’s whole numbers and when it’s percentages). If my googling and “back of the envelope” figuring are close, though… home-schooled make up between 0.5% & 1% of the school-age Catholic population in the USA – to make up 8% of those entering seminary is simply marvelous!

    When I get a chance to read the actual CARA study, I hope it delves into some of the whys and wherefores. Vocation rates here in Boston have been fairly consistent over the decades when viewing the weekly Mass-going population, and I suspect it is much the same in other parts of the country.

  37. TonyO says:

    but I am anti-gun and I despise Donal Trump.

    Good heavens, there are LOTS of trad Catholics who don’t support T-rump. He isn’t Catholic, he isn’t conservative, he isn’t traditional, and he isn’t a very good man so far as we can tell from his behavior. Why would anyone think supporting him is required for trads? No way.

    I would suggest, however, that however much his behavior is at times despicable, pray for him. How else is he going to be turned around?

    While there are a scattering of solid, wholesome Catholic schools around, they are the clear minority – by a pretty wide margin. The more common situation is that the “catholic” schools are fluff-balls. See this back-handed “compliment by a devout secularist about Catholic schools:

    A different kind of conversion, more typical of Roman Catholic parochial schools, reconstitutes a religious school that serves no particular cultural group or even religious one, but hews instead to a mission of Christian service and (usually) light evangelism. In Washington, D.C., Roman Catholic schools serving primarily African American children have recently begun converting to charters.

    By his grudging acceptance, he is pointing out that effectively, Catholic schools are not actually religious schools any more.

    In that environment, it is inevitable and necessary that parents who have resources would take Canon Law seriously: “Catholic parents also have the duty and right of choosing those means and institutions through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of their children, according to local circumstances ” (can. 793 § 1),

    along with Familiaris Consortio: 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. [36]

    and the critical dictum: that the help that the school offers parents in their serious mission of education “must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the principle of subsidiarity.” [Letter of JPII to Families, 1994]

    would have resulted in families deciding to homeschool rather than being derelict in their duties to their children. And nothing could be LESS surprising than that more vocations (not just priests, by the way) come from families that take Canon Law and Familiaris Consortio seriously, than families that do not (or have few resources to do anything about it – or, even sadder, MISTAKENLY think they have no choice about the matter and put their kids in the schools when they really do have a choice.)

    I have one request for you priests. I know YOU men, who read this blog, are not like this, but there are other priests (especially those “of an age”, generally in their 50’s or beyond) who can’t stand homeschoolers as a rule, and who (in one way or another) make life difficult for them for NO OTHER REASON than that they are homeschooling. They (sometimes) berate these parents for not putting the kids in the parish school – as if the parish school has a RIGHT to the kids (see subsidiarity, above). They frequently make getting the sacraments a torture, like forcing homeschooled kids go through CCD classes as if they weren’t in “a Catholic school”, ignoring JPII’s characterization of the family as the first school in religion. Can you please get them off our backs? Homeshoolers can be a powerful force for the parish if properly harnessed: get the pastors to work with the families for a change instead of against them.

  38. John Pomeroy says:

    re: frjim’s “How are they getting along with others? Are they able to minister effectively with all age groups, and both women and men? ” comment.

    Our youngest, who has been home schooled from birth (that’s what she says — from birth) is most comfortable with people of all ages, both sexes, and “differing life styles.” The kids growing up with her but attending government schools spent 8 to 10 hours a day with children their own age. Our daughter was able to help out at the senior center, volunteer as a runner for Meals on Wheels, do volunteer work part time in a child care, plus travel with her mom to various home school and other educational conferences and conventions and work in the booth selling our products.

    She’s not extraordinary in this, she’s a typical home schooler. They aren’t forced to spend time on socialization at school, they become naturally social because they have so many opportunities not available to children in assembly-line schools.

    She was able, because of home schooling, to take 4 years of pipe organ lessons as a high schooler from a professor at our local (well, sort of local it’s only 75 miles away) University. She couldn’t have done that if she were stuck in the local public (or Catholic if we had one) school 5 days a week.

    She’s graduating (Praise God!) from said university in 3 weeks with a degree in music. Her goal is to be the music director at a parish in a medium to large city (she grew up in a town of 1,300). And she won’t have problems dealing with either men or women from 9 to 99. Thanks to home schooling.

  39. sibnao says:

    Numbers aside, I’d like to chime in regarding why homeschooling might have a link to increased vocations.
    Homeschooled children have more time to themselves. They have a little more space to think about things, to reflect on their goals, intuitions, and ideas. It’s just really hard to have any time for reflection, prayer, or consideration in today’s school paradigm. And that’s not a peculiarly Catholic problem, but rather what our expectations of school have evolved to be. Not only all day every day, but with hours of homework, as well as extracurriculars that really become mandatory for anyone who has any idea of going to college. In our middle-class community, most students also have jobs.

    It’s not really so much what Catholic homeschooling PARENTS do, as what the students have the space and emotional energy to do.

  40. TonyO says:

    John Pomeroy makes a good point. The media during the late 80’s, 90’s and 00’s attacked homeschooling through the use of a meme “will they be socialized?” It was a fraud right from the beginning.

    Standard schools of the last 130 years cram 25 to 35 kids of one specific age into a classroom, and channel those kids through 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, as its “social” model. Since the teacher is held to be “one of them”, the kids’ role models become the 2 or 3 “most popular kids”. But being most popular of a group, at ages 8 to 18, is generally detrimental to character development, and the “most popular kids” are rarely the best role models. Indeed, quite often they either ARE popular because they reject proper social rules, or when they become popular they adopt the attitude that standard social obligations don’t apply to them. “Socialization” in that environment bears more than a passing resemblance to Golding’s Lord of the Flies than to any natural or wholesome social structure like a family, a church, or a business.

    In addition, because the kids are all the same age, the differences in development tend to be relatively minor, so they latch onto trivial and irrelevant differences as being crucial to social standing – who has the longest hair, who wears their jeans lowest around their butt, who has the most expensive celebrity sneakers – rather than based on character or anything of real value. And they almost never take teachers for role models – at least not the ones who should be valued that way.

    No, the whole claptrap meme about “socialization” gets the problem completely, 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Homeschool kids generally are exposed to the same varied, naturally occurring social environments as found in the real world, because that’s where they spend time: in varied social environments, natural ones rather than artificial ones. Thus they tend to relate to individuals in the world on a realistic social basis: they expect variation and interact well with such variation. What they are NOT good at, though, is dealing with the utterly artificial (and backward) nuances of brick-and-mortar school rules and social mores. This may seem (to school kids) as socially backward, but they are just looking at the wrong end of the telescope: homeschool kids tend to have VERY easy transitions from mid-to-late high school to adulthood (comparatively speaking at least), because they have been gradually getting more and more time in the “real world” anyway. They are socially advanced compared to their same-age peers, on the average, by at least 2 years. (there are always statistical outliers).

    The modern mass-production school system is a relatively recent invention, and its results are not proving the concept all that well. If you want mass-production little consumers who don’t think for themselves, maybe they are good. But if you want adult human beings alive to adult responsibilities and thinking, not so much. The REAL question that should be asked is this: why would we want kids to be “socialized” the way schools do it? Isn’t that just the same as “damaged”?

  41. Thorfinn says:

    To the points about the particular advantages of homeschooling (attention to the liturgical year, opportunity to attend Mass, authentic Catholic curriculum) I would add that homeschooling helps children retain purity — there are bad things all over society, but by and large they at least don’t see it from their peers or learn it from the school. The homeschooling experience also offers greater freedom to mix with the adult world via church, shopping, travel, museums, parks, and so forth, while avoiding 7-8 soul-deadening brain-deadening hours trapped in a classroom, as many homeschools finish the formal portion of the day before lunch.

    LeeGilbert makes excellent points about common homeschool practices that all families can adopt, particularly reading the Lives of the Saints, family prayer time, and avoiding media. And a key “drawback” of homeschooling, the lack of group activities and sports, is probably something to emulate as well. How many children have lives crammed full of activities and lack time for peace and quiet, for prayer and contemplation, for play, for simple moments of joy?

    FYI homeschoolers are heavily over-represented in our diocesan seminary as well.

  42. jaykay says:

    Kurtmasur: “I doubt tradtional catholics in Europe are pro-gun as this is not a big deal in that continent… In fact, most people in Europe are baffled by the USA’s 2nd Amendment and don’t see any point in having it.”

    It’s not a big deal, true, because gun ownership is very restricted over here. But at least in the British Isles, where our understanding of US culture is a great deal better than in Continental Europe, I don’t think “most” people are baffled, or are not seeing the point in having it – because our cultures are pretty similar. The Anglosphere, and all that.

  43. momoften says:

    “Home schooling in the United States is the necessary concomitant of a culture in which the Church is being opposed on every level of her existence and, as a consequence, given the widespread secularization in our country, home schooling is not only valuable or useful but it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the Catholic church in our country.” – Fr. John Hardon
    I homeschool, and I resent those who have a hard time accepting the idea homeschoolers would make poor priests. . some people make blanket statements because of personal bias….

  44. Fr. Kelly says:

    Cjrs_79 says:
    I do have a comment and a question: I am finding my way to tradition, but I am anti-gun and I despise Donal (sic) Trump.

    Cjrs_79, It seems to me that your question about the connection of several issues to traditionalism have been addressed by Fr. Z and several others — and quite well.

    But I would like to express one caution. If you mean by that, that you despise the man Donald Trump who happens to hold the office of president, then it seems to me that you are crossing a line in violation of Christian charity.

    If you mean that you don’t like him, or what he has done, or his mannerisms, then de gustibus non disputandum. I know that in certain circles it has become an easy thing to say that one dislikes our president, but I feel it necessary to say that I have felt a growing respect for him as president over the past year or so. He has been more consistently pro-life than I could ever have expected. He has made concrete steps to restore religious freedom in our country. I could cite several other reasons, but these all have to do with his role as a public figure and can be argued.

    But if your despite is for him as a person, I would urge you to examine your conscience. He is a man created by God, and for whom Our Lord died on the cross as are the rest of us. And is to be loved and his dignity respected not despised.

    This is not a question of politics ecclesiastical or secular, but of our duty to uphold the twofold law of love.

  45. chantgirl says:

    Diocesan and religious order Catholic schools have largely lost their way. I initially tried 2 different Catholic schools with my oldest, but withdrew him after growing tired of him coming home with Kwanzaa-themed worksheets in the month of December.

    What people seem to forget is that those families who are open to life frequently cannot afford to send their kids to Catholic school whether they want to or not. Parish grade schools can be several thousand or more per child every year, and Catholic high schools now cost almost as much as college. There is a Catholic school in our city that is run by the Visitation nuns. When this order first came to our city, they provided free education to the poor, native population. Now, this high school is more of a finishing school for the rich, and tuition costs tens of thousands of dollars per year.

    It is just not feasible for most large families to send their kids to Catholic school. Add in the fact the the vast majority of those I went to Catholic school with lost their faith due to the deficient/heretical catechesis they received in school, and it’s difficult to justify both parents needing to work to pay the tuition.

  46. benedetta says:

    I take it, alas, that frjim4321, if he cannot appreciate and embrace homeschoolers authentically in caritas, would also be the sort of priest unable to appreciate and enjoy a good yarn like “The Awakening of Miss Prim”?!

  47. Nan says:

    There’s a lovely seminarian, just finishing his first year of major seminary, who was homeschooled.

    My parish is very small and only a few families still have school age children. Of those, one homeschools through 6th grade. Their 7th grader has wanted to he a priest since he was about 7, and is devoted to the altar. Not only is he serving the liturgy at the parish but he serves Mass at his school parish, which has boatloads of altar boys and when the current pastor arrived, only allowed parishioners to serve Mass. He’s a lovely young man.

  48. Semper Gumby says:

    Anthony Esolen had an interesting article in Crisis Magazine the other day related to this topic. Here’s an excerpt:

    “The other day we Americans were informed by National Public Radio that it was Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus did not have to go to hell or purgatory, but rose straight into heaven. It is like saying that Christopher was named Columbus after the capital of Oklahoma, or that Joan of Arc sailed with Noah across the English Channel to fight against the Saxons.”

    “This is what you get for your tax dollars. You also get schools in which nobody learns anything about Scripture or about the civilization built upon it, because that would involve what is called, as if it were the most shocking of indelicacies, “religion,” and, as we know, because National Public Radio would tell us, religion has no place in our public schools.”

    “We are going to see, then, as a rule and not the exception, people of great native intelligence who know absolutely nothing about the Christian faith. Lilies of the field, the prodigal son, death shall have no dominion, the valley of the shadow of death, covering a multitude of sins, and the light shines in the darkness, a lamp unto my feet, I AM WHO AM—they will recognize none of these. A third walking beside us, blood and water flowing from his side, the Damascus road, the three-time crowing of the cock, chariots of fire, the fleshpots of Egypt, thirty pieces of silver, the stone which the builders rejected—none of these will move their hearts.”

    “In this context, then, we ought to ask of our Catholic schools and colleges, “What are you going to do about it?” I will tell you what not to do. You do not put a rootless man on a cruise ship and send him to various ports of call across the world, so that he may pick up “culture” as thin and ephemeral as an overpriced meal in a tourist trap.”

    “We will know that Catholic schools have returned to the Faith, when we see that they have returned to imparting the cultural heritage that that faith has created over the last two thousand years. That will fall afoul of calls for the cruise-ship Diversity. Let it.”

  49. Alice says:

    I’d be curious as to how many homeschooled men are being ordained. Every article I’m seeing indicates that homeschooled men are more likely to enter seminary than non-homeschooled men, but despite what the headlines say, 1 in 10 men entering the seminary is not the same as 1 in 10 ordinations or 1 in 10 current priests. I’m a homeschool alum myself, now in my mid-thirties, and I can think of several of my male peers who went to seminary, but none made it to ordination. It seems like the ordinations in our diocese come out of the Newman Centers and older vocations. For whatever reason, the girls I grew up with did much better in the convent than the boys did in the seminary.

  50. The Masked Chicken says:

    People who grow up in a household where religion is held in reverence tend to maintain their religion longer. There is no mystery, here. It can happen in a secular household, if done properly (although, of course, it would be harder than in a homeschool environment). Homeschooling is insular so tends to preserve reverence. This applies all religions: both Catholics, Protestants, Moslems, etc.

    I do want to see the actual numbers, because from the data available on the Internet (at least what I found), there is no exact number of Catholic homeschoolers known, but the estimate is about 100,000 out of the total 1.77 million homeschoolers, so only 5.6% Only about 38% of kids are homeschooled for religious reasons, however, so what portion of Catholics are doing so for religious reasons is not known. The total number of students in educational systems is about 56 million, so homeschoolers make up, altogether, about 3.5% and of that number, Catholic homeschoolers make up about .2% of the population of children being educated.

    In other words, the statistical variation in the research methodology, alone, is enough to render any of these statistical conclusions suspect. I love homeschooling, but research has protocols and I would like to see the data to see if the conclusions drawn are warranted.

    I have a lot to say, both good and bad, about homeschooling, but I may save that for a later comment. Right now, I am interested in the research that gives these conclusions.

    Oh, and did anybody notice that homeschool vs. secular education is a miniature laboratory on pre-and post-Vatican II effects of exposing people to ecumenism? After all. what is a secular school?

    The Chicken

  51. Nan says:

    But that’s not how vocations work. Men discerning the priesthood don’t necessarily fall into the ordained priest column, nor is it a spreadsheet about whether the girls or boys do better. What you mean is that the men heeded God’s call to discern their vocation and learned either they don’t have a vocation to the priesthood or now is not the time.

    There’s a guy in the diocesan territory I live in who went to seminary, realizing shortly before not being ordained to the diaconate that he wasn’t meant to be a priest. His formation was about heading a solid Catholic family. That’s important too. Other men leave seminary, only to return a few years later and to become priests.

    Nor do all women remain in the convent. I’ve crossed paths with women who spent several months or several years in the convent, but either realized they lacked a vocation, the charisma was wrong for them or were sent home after being told.

    Praise God that both men and women are discerning their vocations. There’s also a new convent on the Cathedral grounds as well as a new discernment house for women at a parish a few blocks from my church, one of six Catholic churches I pass on my 3 mile drive to church on Sunday mornings.

  52. youngcatholicgirl says:

    Someone should take a poll of priests and seminarians who were homeschooled to see how many are “socially awkward” (I feel like I have a right to say that, as a very not “socially awkward” homeschooled student) .

  53. TonyO says:

    I’d be curious as to how many homeschooled men are being ordained. Every article I’m seeing indicates that homeschooled men are more likely to enter seminary than non-homeschooled men, but despite what the headlines say, 1 in 10 men entering the seminary is not the same as 1 in 10 ordinations or 1 in 10 current priests.

    Alice, don’t forget that the seminaries are run by priests who have their own agenda, and for a great many of them, ordaining to the priesthood those whom they consider rigid, hide-bound, “traditional” men is not high on their agenda. Quite the reverse.

    It is well known that after VII, most seminaries came to be in the control of far-left-liberal modernists, who would with great regularity either urge out, or force out, tradition-minded orthodox Catholic seminarians. They would use counseling sessions to find out what kind of men they were, and create pressure to leave, or falsely “train” them to misunderstand their vocation to get them to voluntarily leave, or even use their positions of authority to undermine less-than-granite-hard resolve and ‘convert’ them to left-liberal-land. “Goodbye, Good Men” recounts the tale.

    Fortunately, there are a few good seminaries where this doesn’t happen, much. But these are still far too few – probably less than 10, maybe less than 5. Also fortunately, many smart seminarians now get that they have to be on their guard against the liberal professors and evaluators, and that they have to avoid appearing “traditional” or “conservative” in order to stay in through ordination. But the overall statistics are probably nearly useless as a guide to knowing what is really going on. Without controlling for which kind of seminary, and whether the seminarian did or did not tailor his public persona to “fit” with the expected model in THAT seminary, the result (either ordination or his leaving) can’t tell us anything about whether he was actually fit for ordination.

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