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Five Questions (and Answers) about Catholic Schools

Diocese of St. Petersburg Catholic school students shine year-round but one week each year is devoted to highlighting what makes Catholic schools so special. National Catholic Schools week takes place from January 29 - February 2, 2024. In honor of this celebration, our diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Chris Pastura, participated in a Q & A to provide a big picture overview of Catholic education in our area.


What makes you proud of our Catholic Schools?

I am proud because our Catholic schools live and teach the faith through daily interaction. A relationship with God is something that takes time and dedication to develop. Each day, our students are immersed in an atmosphere of daily prayer, listening to the Gospel, and studying all aspects of God’s creation. That experience forms young people for the rest of their lives.

In what ways do you see schools Courageously Living the Gospel?

First, I look to the commitment and care of our teachers, administrators, school staff, and pastors. These enormously talented people could do any number of things with their lives but choose to teach and lead children who are the future of our Church and society.

Next, I would point to the countless hours of service to the Tampa Bay area that our students and families dedicate each year. If we just count our high school students, we’re giving more than 88,000 hours of service work to the Tampa Bay area each year.

Lastly, I look at the Catholic school alumni in our communities. In their work and personal lives, they are powerful witnesses to the impact of a Catholic education.

How is enrollment doing? Has the economy or inflation impacted enrollment?

Overall, Catholic school enrollment in the Diocese of St. Petersburg is up 3.8% over the past year. We have been blessed to have a scholarship program in the State of Florida that helps every family choose the best education for their children. That scholarship is worth $7,200 – $8,200 per year, depending on the age of the child and the county of residence. This has clearly helped many of our families mitigate the costs of inflation.

Why do we see so many parents sending their children to Catholic schools? What makes them special?

People send their children to us because they know the same values they teach in their home are mirrored at their Catholic school. In addition, the Catholic schools (and parishes) are places where the entire family can feel a true sense of belonging and community.

Is there anything you would you like to say to our Catholic school students for Catholic Schools Week?

The most important questions in life involve faith, meaning, love, family, and friendship. You will likely ponder those questions your entire lifetime. The answers are found in our Catholic faith and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Work on those things and everything else in life will take care of itself.


Chris Pastura is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Chris Pastura