Editor’s Note: The article below is included in the forthcoming fall 2021 edition of the Newman Society’s Our Catholic Mission magazine. A version of this piece was published at Crisis Magazine.
“We shall have to build the schoolhouse first and the church afterward,” the bishop declared, expressing his alarm about the corruption of young Catholics in secular schools. “In our age, the question of education is the question of the Church.”
These famous words of Archbishop “Dagger John” Hughes, who was New York City’s first Catholic shepherd in the mid-1800s, seem no less relevant today. And in Fairfax County, Va., where critical race theory, gender ideology and emptied classrooms because of COVID have sparked protests by angry parents, a parish priest is taking up Hughes’s mission of helping Catholic children get out of public schools by every means possible.