Although it lies somewhat beyond the scope of this exhibit, it is worth noting that recent decades have witnessed a new wave of Catholic immigrantion—not from Europe but from Latin America. In their 2016 article “Catholic Schools Serving Hispanic Families,” Hosffman Ospino and Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill point out that, “In the mid-20th century, Hispanic Catholics were a small, practically unnoticed minority within the Church. [...] Since that time, [however,] Hispanic Catholics rapidly have become perhaps the most significant force transforming contemporary U.S. Catholicism.” [81] But despite the fact that nearly half of all Catholics in the United States today are Latinx, the authors report that only 2.3% of the Latinx school-age population were enrolled in Catholic schools as of 2014. [82] Why? According to the authors, “the exponential growth of Hispanic Catholic school-age children, especially in the last two decades, has unfortunately coincided with a massive decline in the Catholic school educational system and its resources.” [83] The authors also find that the increasing cost of Catholic education is beyond the means of many Latinx families—almost a quarter of whom were living in poverty as of 2013 (the highest poverty rate of any demographic group in America). [84] Finally, Catholic schools have difficulty “[competing] with public schools for skilled bilingual teachers and the need to provide comparable, competitive, just wages” [85]—a familiar problem ever since Catholic schools became increasingly dependent on lay teachers in the midcentury. Acknowledging that “most of the new Catholic faces are neither white nor from Europe,” and that “the education of the next generation of American Catholics may be in peril,” the authors argue that, “More than imagining a return to a past that cannot be replicated [...], proponents of Catholic education need to imagine how to best place Catholic schools at the service of the new Catholic populations in the U.S.” [86]


[81] Hosffman Ospino and Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, “Catholic Schools Serving Hispanic Families: Insights from the 2014 National Survey,” Journal of Catholic Education 19, no. 2 (January 2016): 54-55, accessed January 6, 2021,

[82] Ospino and Weitzel-O’Neill, “Catholic Schools Serving Hispanic Families,” 55.

[83] Ospino and Weitzel-O’Neill, 55.

[84] Ospino and Weitzel-O’Neill, 58.

[85] Ospino and Weitzel-O’Neill, 72.

[86] Ospino and Weitzel-O’Neill, 56-58.

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