History of Catholic Schools in US

Catholic Schools in the United States have existed to bring high- quality, faith-based education to parents who desire educational opportunities for their children. From educating girls and Native Americans to educating the children of slaves and immigrants, Catholic schools have provided hope and opportunity to hundreds of millions of Americans.



Franciscan priests found the first Catholic school on US soil in St. Augustine, Florida


Maryland is founded as a Catholic colony, religious orders continue building schools


First parochial school built in Philadelphia, establishing Parish-School model


First Plenary Council of Baltimore urges every Catholic parish to build a school

  • “All Catholic parents are bound to send their children to the parochial schools … unless it be lawful to send them to other schools on account of a sufficient cause, approved by the Bishop, and with opportune cautions and remedies.”
  • Response to anti-Catholic sentiment related to Irish immigration in 1840’s and fear of Protestant teachings at the public schools


Archdiocese of Philadelphia opens Roman Catholic High School, establishing diocesan secondary school model


1.7 Million students attend 6,551 Catholic schools nationwide


John F. Kennedy, first and only Catholic president, elected President of the United States


5.2 Million students attend 13,000 Catholic schools nationwide


2.3 Million students attend 7,500 Catholic schools nationwide


1.9 Million students attend 6,500 Catholic schools nationwide

  • 1,648 Catholic schools closed since 2005
  • 336 Catholic schools opened since 2005