Catholic Education: Formation, Not Just Information

Between 70 and 80% of Catholic school students stop practicing the faith by the time they graduate college.

There are many reasons for this, but one main antidote is the development of Catholic schools that form the whole person. That was the main message at the keynote speaking event for the in-person portion of this year’s Saint Paul Seminary Institute for Catholic School Leadership certificate program.

June 24 was a monumental day by itself: It was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, priestly ordinations for Saint Paul Seminary graduates from two different dioceses, and the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

It was also an important day for more than 65 institute students, priests, seminarians, religious sisters, Catholic school teachers, principals, diocesan leaders and supporters of Catholic education from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, and the Diocese of Duluth who gathered in St. Mary’s Chapel at the University of St. Thomas for a talk from Father Joseph Johnson, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Johnson emphasized that Catholic school leaders “are in the business of formation, not just information.” He focused on the formation of the mind, body, and soul, a holistic way of preparing educators to lead their students. He encouraged regular reading to cultivate a love of learning; knowing Theology of the Body to understand the significance of the body; and developing a true friendship with Christ in order to invite students into that friendship as well.

“Preparation and healing,” Johnson concluded, “that is what the Church offers.”

The Institute for Catholic School Leadership — which prepares aspiring principals to lead Catholic schools that are faithful to Church teaching and academic excellence — continues to grow, hosting two cohorts this summer, with summer courses wrapping up in time for the new school year. The 2023 summer in-person residency will be held June 21-June 30 at The Saint Paul Seminary.

More than 10,000 students have been impacted by institute graduates who have gone on to become principals or taken on other leadership positions at Catholic schools throughout the country. Those interested in learning more about the 14-month program can visit