By Matthew Vereecke
Special to The Texas Catholic
Within the Diocese of Dallas, we have two very important goals for Catholic schools: we want to make sure that every student entrusted to our care has the ability to reach college and heaven. These goals sum up the academic and moral metrics that allow us to determine whether or not we are succeeding or failing as a system, and graduation season is a perfect time for us to evaluate our progress in educating the current generation of Catholics.
We are extremely proud of our academic achievements, and the numbers speak for themselves. The three diocesan Catholic high schools — Bishop Lynch, Bishop Dunne, and John Paul II — each saw graduation rates far above the local and national averages, with over 99 percent of those graduates moving on to four-year colleges or universities.
Our ACT and SAT college readiness scores beat state averages by nearly 25 percentage points, and the majority of our students received scholarships to the university or college that they will attend, with merit-based scholarships awarded to students among the three schools exceeding $45 million dollars in aid.
Beyond being impressive in terms of these short-term accomplishments, our Catholic schools are also helping to break the cycle of poverty. This year, nearly one in three graduates from Bishop Dunne became the first in their family to go to college, and that achievement can help change entire communities.
Despite this success, we cannot allow Catholic schools to merely be defined by academic prowess. Our schools are ultimately a ministry of our diocese, and we are responsible for forming strong Catholics whose faith guides actions.
To that end, we are proud of our graduates who are putting that faith into action by taking gap years to serve the poor, who are volunteering their time to our greater Dallas community, and who are choosing to continue their Catholic School education at Holy Trinity Seminary, as one of our Bishop Lynch graduates is doing.
All of this allows Catholic schools here in the diocese to be a force for good and an element of our larger development of the mission of the diocese, and while we have completed one of our goals for our graduates this year, the road to heaven is just beginning.
I would ask that if you see a graduate at Mass in the coming weeks, you encourage their progress thus far and encourage them into the future. They are our forthcoming priests, the people who will carry on #BeGolden, and the people who will build our churches as the diocese continues to grow.
As always, thank you for joining us in that journey, and supporting the mission of the diocese in all you do.
Matthew Vereecke is the superintendent of the Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools. His column originally appeared in The Texas Catholic’s Salute to the Class of 2018 print edition, published June 15. Pick up a copy for more coverage of the graduating classes at Dallas Catholic schools.