Local News

Raleigh Diocese Plans to Expand Triangle Catholic Schools

Posted June 24, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Public school systems are struggling to keep up with the Triangle's growth. That's true for private schools as well. Catholics moving into our area are finding it's tough to get a space for their kids in Catholic school. Churches are working overtime to provide that space.

Ten years ago there were 65,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Raleigh. Today, that number has more than doubled. But the number of Catholic schools in our area has not.

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh has beautiful voices and beautiful churches, but what it doesn't have is enough Catholic schools.

"There are no Catholic schools in southwest Wake County," says Father Donald Staib. "There are no Catholic schools in Cary or Apex."

Father Staib is heading an effort to build the first Catholic elementary and middle school in Apex. The 24 classroom, $5 million dollar facility should be completed by the year 2000. Father Staib says that won't be soon enough.

"At the present time, there is a strong desire for people with small children to have them in Catholic schools," explains Father Staib.

Parents have a variety reasons for sending their kids to Catholic schools:

"Jesus Christ is very important to me," says Scott Brown, "and I want my children to be brought up on a daily basis learning about that."

Ann Aherne-Daly agrees. She says it's crucial to give her child a Catholic basis to her education.

To accommodate the demand, the Raleigh Diocese is building nine new churches in the Triangle, and is expanding the elementary school at St. Rafael's. The growth extends to the area's only Catholic High school, Cardinal Gibbons in Raleigh.

Four years ago, 350 students went to Cardinal Gibbons. Today, there are more than 600. To handle the extra students, the school has started using trailers.

Construction has started on the new Cardinal Gibbons High School, which will accommodate 800 students. It should be ready by the fall of 1999.

Catholic leaders have just launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for the new school in Apex and another one at St. Michael's in Cary.