Cardinal Francis George | Sun-Times Files
Updated: July 11, 2013 6:12AM
Perhaps no non-governmental institution has been as central to the growth, success and spirtual well being of Chicago as the Roman Catholic Church.
Tens of millions of Chicagoans have followed the church’s faith over the decades and, more to the point, tens of millions of Chicagoans have been educated in its schools and universities.
It was good news, then, when enrollment in the church’s elementary schools increased two years in a row at the outset of this decade, reversing 45 years of decline, and it is a sign of the church’s continued vigor that it is embarking on a $350 million fund-raising campaign.
At a time when others are demanding more government funding for education — a goal we share — the Archdiocese of Chicago is launching “To Teach Who Christ Is,” a bold campaign to raise entirely private funds for Catholic education and other parish and church needs.
If ever there were a time for Catholics to give back, this is it. Those parish schools represent the church at its best.
The archdiocese, which includes Cook and Lake counties, already has raised $82.5 million of the total goal through major gifts. The three-year fund-raising goal for the parishes is $250 million, with 60 percent of the money raised to remain in the individual parishes and 40 percent to be distributed elsewhere in the archdiocese.
In making the announcement last week, Cardinal Francis George made the sort of boosterish statement to be expected from a corporate CEO, but we would not disagree.
“The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago and our faith formation programs make their case in the lives of those transformed by them,” George said. “The alumni of our schools and parishes are living and working in Chicago, the suburbs and around the world.”
More than 86,500 children are enrolled in archdiocese elementary and secondary schools, including 30,190 in the city itself.
Let’s help the good work continue.