Monday, August 6, 2007

Catholic School to End Discount to "No-Show" Parishioners

Many Catholic schools offer discounted tuition rates to members of their affiliated parish. Father John Yockey of St. Jerome's in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee got tired of parents registering as members of the parish in order to get the discount but then not attending Mass regularly. So, after consulting with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Fr. Yockey instituted an attendance policy for those claiming the discount. During school registration, parents who wanted the $1400 discount had to sign contracts in which they committed to the required minimum Mass attendance. If the parents don't have at least a 70% attendance rate in any single quarter, about 10 weeks, they'll have to pay full tuition for the rest of the school year.

Fr. Yockey said he has a sense of who is at Mass regularly among the parish's 1,400 families. Weekly donation envelopes collected at Mass also will be cross-checked with school parents' names. In addition, a guest book may be placed in church. People on vacation can bring a bulletin from the church they attended to the school office by noon the following Monday.

Fr. Yockey said the new policy addresses a matter of truth and fairness. It's "a grave injustice" to the parish, which dedicated a new school in 2004, to subsidize families that are not part of parish faith life.
"It was my decision. I'm calling it the expectation model. What this means is that parents who are registered as parishioners of St. Jerome are expected to live up to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the official teaching reminds parents that they are the primary educators of their children in the ways of faith."
Fr. Yockey got the idea from area Lutheran schools, which traditionally require regular church attendance in order to receive discounted tuition and even list the attendance rate on the children's report cards.

It's sad that Fr. Yockey even has to resort to a formal policy :-( Church doctrine is quite clear about the obligation to attend Mass on the Sabbath and on Holy Days of Obligation. Unfortunately, though, too many individuals who consider themselves to be "Catholics" only attend Mass twice per year or not at all. To grant these folks the same tuition discount as active parishioners is simply unfair.

I personally think this type of policy should be standard at any school offering discounts to registered parishioners!

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