After a tough 2020-21 year for many Catholic schools, enrollment numbers are rebounding nationwide, according to data from the National Catholic Educational Association.
Overall, enrollment in Catholic schools in the United States rose from 1.63 million last year to 1.69 million this year, an increase of more than 3.5 percent, according to the NCEA.
Despite this increase, the number of enrollments does not yet appear to have reached the levels of 2019, which saw 1.74 million students enrolled.
CNA also reached out to the ten largest dioceses in the country by Catholic school enrollment to ask how their enrollment numbers this year compare to last year. The results CNA received are plotted on the following map and listed below.
Enrollment figures for Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans and Chicago for 2021-22 were not immediately available.
Cincinnati has a disproportionate number of Catholic students for its size. Spokesperson Jennifer Schack told CNA that the archdiocese had 39,839 students enrolled this year, an increase of 1.5 percent from the previous year.
However, looking at the last five years, the number of students tends to drop by 2.5%, she said.
The Archdiocese currently serves some 440,000 Catholics in 19 counties, but this number is declining. Under a new consolidation plan, existing parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati — of which there are currently more than 200 — have been consolidated into 53 “families,” which could eliminate more than 70 percent of active parishes. The consolidation process should be completed by July 1.
St. Louis, like Cincinnati, is not one of the largest dioceses, but has a disproportionate number of students in its Catholic schools.
John Schwob, director of pastoral planning for the archdiocese, told CNA in an email that 38% of elementary school-aged Catholic children in St. Louis are in a Catholic school, compared to 13% at the nationally, and 31% of Catholic children of secondary school age are in a Catholic school compared to 10% nationally.
Schwob said that despite the high numbers, enrollment in Catholic schools overall has been in a slow but steady decline in the archdiocese for years. Despite this general trend, enrollment in Catholic elementary schools in St. Louis rose this year for the first time in 32 years, he said.
Students: 34,268 vs. 34,792 (1.5% increase)
Teachers: 3,558 versus 3,516
The Brooklyn Diocese has also seen an increase in enrollment. Ted Havelka, director of enrollment management and financial aid for the Brooklyn Superintendent of Schools, told CNA that the total enrollment for this year is 30,894, an increase of 2.4 percent. compared to last year.
It was the first year-over-year increase in enrollment in a decade, Havelka said.
The Diocese of Cleveland has 38,312 students in its Catholic schools this year, an overall increase of 1.2%.
Notably, pre-kindergarten enrollment in the Diocese of Cleveland is up 30% from the 2019-2020 school year, communications director Deacon James Armstrong told CNA.
The Archdiocese of Miami has seen one of the largest percentage increases in the number of Catholic students among the largest dioceses. With 34,892 students this year, this represents an increase of 5.4% over last year.
Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School in the west of the city is hosting its largest freshman class in decades, with this year’s class nearly tripling the size of last year’s. Enrollment at the school as a whole increased by 118, or more than 30%, according to Dr. Jim Rigg, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic schools.
Meredith Wilson, a media and events specialist with the Office of Communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told CNA that overall enrollment in their Catholic schools is up 2.5% from last school year.
Enrollment for the 2021-22 academic year was 42,839, compared to 41,797 for the 2020-21 academic year.
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