The Progression of Catholic Schools Timeline

This timeline goes into depth about Catholic schools, Church, and things that have effected it over the years that have made it what it is today.

  • “On April 23, 1635, the first public school of the United States was established in Boston. This school is called the Boston Latin School. It is said that the school was to be like a school in England that taught its students many different languages such as Latin.”(BLS) This day is significant because it is when public schools were created. Little did the people who created this school know that a few hundred years later schools would be made to be in direct competition with them. But obviously this was the start is hundreds of thousands of public schools being established across the United States.

  • “In 1789 the first Catholic and Jesuit university was founded in the United States, Georgetown University, in Washington D.C”(Staff Writers). This is significant because this was the start of universities becoming Catholic. The education given at these universities was good from the start and because of this more and more were being made to keep up with popular demand. The education provided allows for deepening your Catholic faith, along with an intense course structure to keep students engaged and make them successful one day.

  • 1884 was the year when bishops across the United States decided to order all parishes to have a school attached to it. Many people were not agreeing with the things their children were being taught during this time because Protestantism was more widely known then”(Egan). This I significant because this is when the competition began between sending children to public or catholic schools. Many families were not liking what their children were learning so this gave them an opportunity to pick where to send their kids. This is also interesting to me because it took such a long time for Catholic schools to develop in the United States. I thought someone would have tried to establish one sooner than a little over 200 years after the start of public schools.

  • “In the 1890’s many people started to immigrate to America from countries such as Ireland and Italy. The Catholic Church took many of these people in and provided them with an education at Catholic schools. But later on an issue arose because not many blacks were Catholic thus causing Catholic schools to not be as diverse as they could be”(Moses). This is significant because it was obvious this long ago that the Catholic schools were not diverse at all. This situation has caused Catholic schools to try and become more diverse as time has gone on.

  • “In 1920 75 percent of the Catholic population in the United States were immigrants and because of this a lot of Catholic Churches were expanding to accommodate all of these people”(Kerwin). This is significant because this is showing how Catholics have been able to help immigrants in the past. Now we are having a lot of immigrants from countries in the Middle East and the Catholic Church should do something like they did back in the 1920’s to help these new immigrants today.

  • On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech which was emphasizing how there needs to be a change in the United States because of how bad segregation was”(King Jr). This issue shook everyone and still impacts people today. This is significant because is shows how segregation has not been resolved since the previous box from the 1890’s when segregation was beginning to be a problem in Catholic schools then. Obviously this was a problem that still needed to be fixed.

  • “In 1970, the average cost of tuition for a Catholic schools was around $863 which was reasonable for most families at the time (this number is seen as in terms of money now)”(Dolan). Obviously this price was not able to be paid by everyone but for the time it seemed to be pretty reasonable. This fact is significant because it is showing that at one time, sending your child to a Catholic school was not always an extreme amount of money. It is also showing the difference as to what the cost of it is now.

  • 1973 was the year that one of the most controversial court cases in the United States happened, Roe v Wade. This court case was ruled by saying that it is safe to have a legal abortion and deemed this a constitutional right for women”(Planned Parenthood). This court case was very controversial and still is because the Catholic Church does not believe in abortion because they think that all life is precious and life starts at conception. The court case is significant because teachers had to figure out how to teach or how to not teach their students about this in Catholic schools. If a teacher in a Catholic school was to teach their students about this historical court case, they could possibly get in trouble for technically teaching something that goes against the Catholic faith.

  • “In 1986 United States bishops released a statement saying ‘It is against the common good and unacceptable to have a double society, one visible with rights and one invisible without rights — a voiceless underground of undocumented persons’ when Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act”(Kerwin). This statement by the bishops is a prime example of one of the good beliefs that the Catholic Church has on immigration. They were trying to speak out against the government and try to advocate for the immigrants who are not able to advocate for themselves. This should model into how Catholic schools should be accepting of all students no matter their race or cultural backgrounds.

  • “In 1986 in Rome Italy, World Youth Day was established by John Paul II in an effort to get the youth of the world together and to better themselves in their faith and in their relationship with God. The theme of this first year was ‘Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you’– 1Pt 3:15″(World Youth Day). This is significant because this event was created by the leader of the Catholic Church at the time to bring the youth of the world together, especially those who are getting a Catholic education or who are Catholic in general.

  • “In February of 2003 bishops of the Catholic church established Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, a statement that called for an approach to immigration reform”(Kerwin). This is significant because as shown in the 1963 box, segregation was still a huge problem across the United States. I think the bishops doing this shows a great sign of progress within the Catholic Church and shows how they have started to make a change in their old ways which is amazing to see.

  • 2004 Is when I attended preschool for the first time. My parents made the decision when I was 3 years old to send me to the school that was attached to our church, Saint Catherine of Sienna School. This is probably the most significant date to me on this timeline because it was the start of a lifetime of Catholic education for me. At such a young age I was able to learn about God and we did things such as Christmas and Easter pageants at such a young age to instill the knowledge that led me to continue my Catholic education for the rest of my life. If I could go back in time I would want to thank my parents for making this tough decision because Catholic schooling can be pretty expensive when you start out going at such a young age.

  • “In 2005 some bishops in the United States made something called Justice for Immigrants, A Journey of Hope which is able to help people in countries where people are trying to leave the most succeed because they have been kicked out of the United States”(Kerwin). This is significant because the Catholic Church is going against the United States Government here and helping immigrants out which is showing immense progress in their understanding for people of different cultures and hopefully this understanding spread into the Catholic schools across the United States.

  • “In 2010 the average cost of tuition for Catholic schools was $5,858″(Dolan). This is an insane amount of money for people to fork over especially when they are sending multiple children to Catholic schools. This is significant because it is showing how since the statistic from 1970 is a much less amount than this one. Back then, it was much more affordable to send you children to Catholic school if you so choose that, but now a lot of families are not able to have this choice of where to send their children and have to default send them to public schools because of the high cost.

  • 2010 The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools was created to get feedback from teachers, priests, and bishops in diocese around the United States to see how schools were performing. They were also checking the Nine Defining Characteristics that each school should be representing which are basically standards that are making sure the schools are keeping to the core Catholic teachings and values that they want to instill in all of their students”(Ozar). This information is significant because it is showing the high standard that Catholic schools have for themselves which some public schools do not have, thus making them seem a bit better than public schools because they have to meet a certain criteria.

  • 2015 Is when gay marriage was legalized in the United States of America through the Supreme Court case of Obergefell v Hodges”(Georgetown Law). This is significant to Catholic schools because in the Catholic Church, gay marriage is frowned upon. Many people are old fashioned and set in their ways and believe that God does not like the gays and thinks that it is wrong. This has brought up much controversy within Catholic schools because teachers are having to navigate how to teach their students about something that is frowned upon by their faith. This is very interesting because the legalization of gay marriage is a huge deal for people across the country and it is something that students should be learning about in history classes.

  • “In 2015 a diocese in San Francisco made a handbook for all of its teachers at Catholic schools to help them to not contradict the Church’s beliefs on things such as homosexuality, birth control, and abortion”(Jenkins). This is significant because it is showing that there is still a lot wrong with some diocese around the United States. As shown in the previous box, same sex marriage is legal and this handbook is going against the governments ruling so this is a big issue that this diocese was doing that because it is not right in the eyes of the government.

  • 2018 Is when I began my college search. Coming from a small high school knowing basically everyone in my class, I wanted to look at some of the most well known big schools in the country. I toured a lot of schools in the south such as UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and NC State, but none of them felt right for me. Then my family heard about John Carroll and we thought we might as well go for a visit. Visiting John Carroll showed me how similar it was to my high school. Everyone knew everyone and it was like a family spread across the whole entire campus. Being a Jesuit school also helped too because I am strong in my faith and I knew I would be comfortable continuing my faith journey at John Carroll. This is what led me to decide on picking John Carroll for my undergrad years!

  • “In 2019 over 1,700 priests and clergy-men were discovered to be hidden from child sex abuse scandals”(Lauer). This is significant because this information being uncovered gave the Catholic Church a bad reputation, thus giving the schools a bad reputation as well. I can imagine that many people were scared to send their children to Catholic schools where priests were present because they could be hiding a sex abuse scandal that no one knows about.

  • 2019 I graduated from Bishop Grimes Jr/Sr Catholic High School located in Syracuse, New York. Walking across the stage and getting my diploma was one of the most humbling moments for me in my life. I have never been more thankful for my parents who sacrificed a lot for me to be able to get the great Catholic education that I did from preschool until the end. One of the most important things that I have gotten out of having a Catholic education thus far is perfectly described in my high school’s alma matter that I happen to remember by heart, “though the trials of life surround us, strong of heart and strong of soul, we will face the world around us as we reach our cherished goals”. I have kept this verse with me and will continue to keep it with me for the rest of my life.

  • “In 2020 the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is trying to use public money to help kids gain access to private schools who have parents that may not be able to do it on their own”(Barnum). This is very significant because the government does not have anything to do with funding Catholic schools. But she is trying to do this to give some kids a better opportunity to get a better education by using tax money to go towards kids who would like to attend private schools such as Catholic ones. This is very controversial because this could cause some children to not attend their local public school and eventually making that local public school close because they can not meet attendance requirements.

Closing Remarks:

As shown in my timeline, Catholic schools have had a lot of ups and downs throughout the years. They also still have a lot fo work to do to become better with the changing times of the world we are living in today. Overall, I would never trade my Catholic education for anything and I am insanely thankful for my parents for giving me such a great education. Without this education I may not be attending college like I am today and I hope more people are able to have as good of an experience as I had with Catholic schools.


The American Board. “11 Facts About the History of Education in America.” American Board Blog, 17 Oct. 2019,

Barnum, Matt. “Asked Whether She Is Using Crisis to Support Private School Choice, DeVos Says ‘Yes, Absolutely’.” Chalkbeat, Chalkbeat, 20 May 2020,

Boston Latin School. “BLSA: Boston Latin School – Boston Latin School Association.” BLS, 2019,

Dolan, Greg. “Why Can’t the Middle Class Afford Catholic School Anymore?” Education Next, Education Next, 22 Mar. 2020,

Egan, Timothy. “The Changing Face of Catholic Education.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Aug. 2000,

Georgetown Law Library. “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: Introduction.” Guides, 2020,

Jenkins, Jack. “Why Are Catholic Schools Firing Gay Teachers, and How Can One Refuse?” National Catholic Reporter, The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 1 July 2019,

Kerwin, Donald M. Kerwin Donald. “Immigration Reform and the Catholic Church.”, Migration Policy Institute, 19 July 2019,

Lauer, Claudia, and Meghan Hoyer. “Almost 1,700 Priests and Clergy Accused of Sex Abuse Are Unsupervised.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 4 Oct. 2019,

Luther King Jr, Martin. “‘I Have a Dream,” Address Delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, Stanford University, 25 Jan. 2019,

Moses, James Charles. “Desegregation in Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, 1964-1974, Including a Case Study of a Catholic High School .” Dissertations, 1977.

Ozar, Lorraine. “Making a Difference: The Promise of Catholic School Standards.” Journal of Catholic Education, 2019, pp. 154–185., doi:10.15365/joce.2201102019.

Parenthood, Planned. “Roe v. Wade: The Constitutional Right to Access Safe, Legal Abortion.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 2019, “The History of World Youth Day.”, Kickstart Media, 2018,

Writers, Staff. “Best Catholic Colleges and Universities.” CollegeChoice, Red Ventures Company, 20 Oct. 2020,

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