America StaffMarch 18, 2021
Students at St. Joseph's in Anderson, S.C., a Catholic school which bucked a national trend of declining enrollment in 2020-21. Photo courtesy of St. Joseph.

Nationally, Catholic school enrollment dropped 6.4 percent in 2019-20—more than 111,000 students. The largest single-year decline in almost 50 years, it was greater than the drop during the clergy sex abuse crisis (2003, -2.7 percent), the late 2000s economic crisis (2008, -3.5 percent) and a 5.8 percent decline in 1971.

Catholic elementary school students declined by 8.1 percent, while Catholic secondary-school enrollment fell 2.5 percent. The elementary-school drop could affect secondary-school numbers within the next five to 10 years.

Catholic school enrollment decline in 2020-21
Catholic school enrollment decline in 2020-21

The sharpest enrollment decline was for prekindergarten enrollment at Catholic schools, which was down almost 27 percent.

The sharpest enrollment decline was for prekindergarten enrollment at Catholic schools, which was down almost 27 percent.

Only 10 of the 174 dioceses with Catholic schools experienced an increase of 1 percent or more in student enrollment.

Two hundred and nine Catholic schools closed or consolidated at the end of the 2019-20 school year, 186 elementary and 25 secondary.

Catholic school closings in 2020-21
Catholic school closings in 2020-21

Black families, urban communities and non-Catholics were overrepresented in the demographic sample of closed schools. These underserved groups were twice as likely to have lost their Catholic school.

Source: National Catholic Educational Association.

The latest from america

“I am encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd” over the Wright shooting, Archbishop Hebda added.
In 2019 Bishop Hoeppner was publicly accused of trying to cover up allegations of sexual abuse against a priest of the diocese. He has denied he thwarted such an investigation.
Catholic News ServiceApril 13, 2021
‘It is a question of perspective. Whose perspective do we adapt to when we ask questions like that?’
J.D. Long-GarcíaApril 12, 2021
The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan explained how it can be healthy to sometimes ‘hate’ what we truly love, including the church.
Adam A.J. Deville April 12, 2021