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Today we welcome this guest post written by Lori Dulin, principal at Our Lady of Bethlehem School and Childcare.  OLB has been a supporter of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference for many years and is proud to be featured in our Catholic Organizational area.

This week, our nation celebrates Catholic Schools Week (CSW), highlighting our schools as “communities of faith, knowledge and service.”  I am blessed and humbled to be a product of Catholic education from Kindergarten through post-secondary, and now to serve students and families from about 14 different parishes in the Diocese of Columbus at Our Lady of Bethlehem (OLB).

During CSW, we not only take the opportunity to attract and recruit new families, we express our appreciation to those already in our community for “choosing” Catholic education.  Growing up, I remember my father telling me it was my mother’s and his “obligation” to send my siblings and I to Catholic schools.  He was also very specific about the things our family would sacrifice in order to pay our school tuition.  As an administrator in a Catholic school and childcare, I often consider that difference – between a choice and an obligation.  It comes up in every day conversations with students – “making good choices” versus being “obliged to do the right, the expected thing.”

Statistics show the reasons for sending one’s children to Catholic schools have changed.  The “obligation” to do so has lessened and, in many cases, disappeared.  Because a family is Catholic and the school is Catholic is no longer the primary reason – in fact, it’s way on down the line.  While disheartening, those of us promoting Catholic education must realize it and get on with it.  The question is “why are parents NOT choosing Catholic education for their children?”  “How do we serve those well who ARE, yet continue to reach out and minister to those who ARE NOT?”

I am abundantly grateful to the incredible families who do choose to send their children to Our Lady of Bethlehem and the other schools in our Diocese.  I know their sacrifices aren’t easy ones and are among many difficult decisions that come with parenting in a secular culture that provides so many “choices.”  I am committed to assuring that OLB and Catholic education continue to be exemplary communities of faith, knowledge and service, and to reaching out to help many more make the choice of what we know is right and just.