“The steady decline in Catholic school population has been the subject of a vast amount of comment, most completely off the mark. The Catholic population in the United States did not suddenly plummet to the bottom of the economy after 1971. If anything, the general income level of Catholics after 1971, when the decline of Catholic schools began to take hold, was as good or better than their level of income in the 1950s and ’60s, when they–infinitely better off than their immigrant ancestors who founded American Catholic schooling–had managed to sustain a vast number of schools throughout the nation. Indeed, during the 1950s and into the late 1960s, new Catholic schools were being built.
“Economics has not been the real reason for the steadily diminishing Catholic school population. Nor has the decline in female (and male) religious vocations been the essential cause. Nor has Lemon v. Kurtzman. Paraphrasing Cassius, a Catholic is forced to say: ‘The fault, dear Catholics, lies not in our laws but in ourselves.’ Like the leadership in many mainline Protestant churches, many Catholics of influence after the Second Vatican Council departed from traditional beliefs, disparaged all authority but their own, and embraced novelty as though it were ‘renewal.’ If there is a return, now, to a profound sense of the sacred among Catholics, to discipline, and to the careful teaching of doctrine, Catholics may have hope for a resurgence of Catholic fervor and fidelity.”
–Wm. Bentley Ball, Mere Creatures of the State (Crisis Books, Notre Dame, IN: 1994).
Here is a good visual of a restoration of the sense of the sacred. May Alaska’s bishops and priests hasten this restoration in our fair state, through the intercession of St. Therese and Our Lady of the Snows!