Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
There's a new trend that's highlighting the benefits of homeschooling. Young men with a homeschool background are four times more likely to enter seminaries than those educated in Catholic institutions.
A new study conducted by CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, found that one in 10 young men studying for ordination to the priesthood in the United States was homeschooled.
What's remarkable is that, even though the number of homeschooled American Catholics is just 100,000 at the moment – compared to 2 million in Catholic schools – homeschools provided 8 percent of the young men who are currently studying for the priesthood in the U.S.
The study found that, on average, these candidates spent seven years being homeschooled and said they were about 16 years old when they discerned their vocation.
In the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, where Father J. D. Jaffe serves as the director of vocations, the increase in vocations from Catholic homeschooling families is obvious. “Homeschoolers have a disproportionately large participation in our discernment events in comparison to Catholic school and public-school kids,” said Father J. D. Jaffe, director of vocations for the Diocese of Arlington to Seton Magazine. “The same increased numbers are seen in our seminarians where roughly 30 percent of them are from homeschooling households.”
Nikolai Brelinsky, who is currently enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said he believes homeschooling was helpful and a very important element in his discernment process.
“It certainly provided an atmosphere to consider it,” he told Seton Magazine. “In my personal opinion, homeschooling fosters the Catholic faith. Being homeschooled didn’t make me want to be a priest, but it did help me answer the calling through immersion of faith. Homeschooling goes hand in hand with the faith aspect.”
“The evidence is highly encouraging. Going forward, the impact could be enormous,” said Draper Warren, admissions director at Seton Home Study School in Front Royal, Virginia. “We often don’t understand the historical importance of a movement while it is still young, but a generation from now we will look back and see Catholic homeschooling as partly responsible for keeping the Church vibrant in the United States. Vocations are just one of the many fruits of homeschooling.”