SOURCE: National Catholic Educational Association

September 21, 2015 14:31 ET

Pope Francis' Visit Shines Spotlight on Catholic Education in the United States

Catholic Schools Offer Academic Excellence and Faith-Filled Education for 7.6 Million Students in Rural and Urban Communities Nationwide

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwired - September 21, 2015) - The visit from Pope Francis shines a spotlight directly on Catholic education in the United States. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) says that Pope Francis's visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem this week showcases the important role that Catholic schools serve in urban communities and brings light to the academic excellence and faith-filled education that Catholic schools provide for 7.6 million students nationwide.

"Inspired by Pope Francis' call to go back to being a 'community of God's people,' we as Catholic priests, pastors, bishops, principals and teachers remain committed to serve all of our Catholic school communities with renewed devotion," said NCEA President Brother Robert Bimonte.

National test scores, high school graduation rates, college attendance and other data show that Catholic schools frequently outperform schools in both the public and private sectors. While some Catholic schools are challenged by declining enrollments and school closures, NCEA says the good news is that there is a strong demand and enthusiasm for Catholic schools. In 2014, 30 percent of Catholic schools had waiting lists for admission and 27 new schools opened across the country.

Pope Francis's visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem also serves to debunk the myth that Catholic schools are disappearing from urban/inner-city communities and that they are for the elite. "Catholic schools in urban cities continue to provide low-income students with the academic preparation, values and skills they need to break the cycle of poverty and lead fulfilling, productive and faith-based lives," said NCEA President Brother Robert Bimonte.

In fact, NCEA says that 41% of the more than 6,500 Catholic schools in the United States are urban/inner-city Catholic schools serving disadvantaged and immigrant-rich neighborhoods. Many Catholic schools offer tuition subsidies and scholarships coupled with parental choice to help more underprivileged families to attend.

To download and view an infographic that showcases facts and figures about the ongoing excellence and promise of growth represented in Catholic schools, visit:

To view NCEA's 2014-2015 Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment and Staffing for U.S. Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, visit:

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    National Catholic Educational Association