The Roman Catholic Diocese of New York City announced today that it is going to close a huge chunk of its schools. The announcement cited expenses and lack of enrollment as the basis for this decision.
Now I recognize that there really isn't a board of directors for this nonprofit called the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York City but let's put that little detail aside for the moment. More important for this conversation is the question of a nonprofit's mission. I generally understand there to be many reasons for a religious organization creating a school, never mind a school system. Of course all of these reasons have to do with mission. Religious organizations most importantly want to create their future members and one generally sure-fire way to accomplish this goal is to get them in the doors during their formative years. Another motive is even more fundamental: establishing the future population with a set of values which in theory will be beneficial to the individuals, those they touch, and the community in which they live. Once upon a time parochial schools also had some of the best quality education and certainly discipline. And finally, schools have been revenue producers, at least when they were staffed with volunteers (aka nuns and brothers).
So, has the mission of the Roman Catholic Diocese school system changed? Or has the Diocese not changed enough in its approach to teaching such that it is no longer the place where folks want their kids? Or does the Church have other goals for its money - equally important goals as training the future. I obviously didn't get the internal memo but I must of course ask the question which many nonprofits must ask in what continues to be very challenging economic times: is the nonprofit shedding what no longer achieves mission so it can better achieve mission or has it just lost its way?