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Presenting the Faith-based Mission of Your Catholic School
Connor Gleason

An educational experience that is fused with a belief in God is a cornerstone of many Catholic schools’ missions and is valued by many families, alike. But despite a recent small bump in enrollment during the pandemic, the downward trend in Catholic school enrollment has the attention of many schools of faith.

Since the 2010 school year, 1,400 Catholic schools were reported closed or consolidated, while the number of enrolled students declined by over 20%, according to data from the National Catholic Educational Association. However, where some Catholic leaders may see hardship, others may see opportunities to showcase the unique offerings that resonate with families who are seeking a Catholic education for their students.

But how well does your Catholic school website express your value in a way that resonates with prospective families? Successfully presenting the experience and the benefits of Catholic education through your school’s website is more important than ever.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways your website can showcase the mission and purpose behind your school’s faith.

Faith as a differentiator

While many schools are rooted in religion, the student experience at a Catholic school is unique. Faith is as much of a strength as another school’s STEM, theater, or athletic program. One common place to speak to your school’s faith is an “about,” or “mission” page, but your homepage is an ideal place to showcase how and why your school does things differently. Highlighting your school's approach to faith can be a hook for prospective families.

Screenshot of the Academy of the Holy Cross Homepage

The Academy of the Holy Cross’ homepage delivers a web experience that’s engaging, interactive, and clearly identifies their all-girls school's approach to Catholic education. Fueled by creativity, supported by faith and friendship, Holy Cross empowers its girls to “thrive, push themselves and take initiative.” Holy Cross encourages its students to “flex” their faith through opportunities during group and individual prayer, self-reflection, and their four-day senior retreat experience. Expanding panels, engaging calls to action, and eye-catching imagery and video pull it all together to showcase a distinguished educational opportunity guided by faith. Nicely done!

Showing an active faith in the daily experience

Showing how faith plays a role in daily life at your school can help illustrate how it’s ingrained in all that you do. From early morning community meetings and religion class, to close relationships with faculty members and quiet reflection, Catholicism can play a large role in an individual’s experience.

Life at Sacred Heart Screenshot

For families wanting a glimpse into the everyday life of Catholic school students, a grid of dynamic photos helps Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York illustrate any given day in its lower, middle, or upper school. The images help bring to life classrooms that are engaging, experienced faculty that are mentors, and impactful moments that carry the mission. Moments of discovery, academic excellence, friendship, and both spiritual and personal growth help showcase the full experience.

Your mission in action

Your school is working toward a greater social awareness by serving others in the community. Serving local communities or organizations is a great way to demonstrate your school's commitment to others. 

Stone Ridge's Living Our Mission Sreenshot

Look to Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland for an excellent example of how faith and service often go hand-in-hand. The school’s Living Our Mission page details the social action, DEI initiatives, and parent engagement, among other efforts.

It shows families how the school community puts its faith into practice outside of school, or as the school puts it: “​​Stone Ridge students recognize their capacity to transform, to become powerful agents of God’s love and compassion, and to step out of their comfort zones to serve.”

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Showing personal and spiritual growth

Faith plays a formative role in your school's culture and student experience, and where some schools may place “programs” or “student life” in their main navigation, Ursuline Academy of Dallas highlights the “Ursuline Experience.”

Screenshot of Ursuline Academy's website

Ursuline credits its faith as the foundation for its mission, beginning and closing each day with prayer and offering mass four times a week. For families interested in learning how faith is balanced between academics and spiritual formation, Ursuline outlines the experiences on campus that blend global relationships, spiritual development, and the inspiration to serve and learn from others.

Using your school’s heritage and history as a guiding force

If your school follows the life, teachings, or fellowship of a beloved saint, or shares its history with a particular religious order, share that story with family and friends. The founding of schools is often rooted deep in tradition, faith, and the joy of educating young men and women, so consider sharing that pride.

De Smet Jesuit High School's History page

De Smet Jesuit High School’s history page details its first days of classes in 1967 when the values of the Jesuit mission “rallied around the school's mission to build character and nurture the culture of brotherhood.” Sections for significant events, fun memories, and a timeline starting in 1801 with the birth of Fr. Pierre Jean De Smet chronicle the school’s evolution.

Screenshot of Lauralton Hall's history page

Lauralton Hall in Milford Connecticut shares its school’s century-old history with the Mercy tradition of Catherine McAuley, who served as a catalyst for women in education. As a prospective family, both these examples invite you to join the long, proud history of the schools.

Using an intentional design as social proof

Testimonials help provide social proof and can help support a decision to inquire or learn more—at key points during the decision-making process, they help build trust and showcase more voices of your community. 

One strategy is to use a variety of faith-based call-outs in addition to testimonials throughout your site. Not only will the design help break out longer text-heavy pages, but the powerful words will help communicate your school’s mission and Catholic values.

a testimonial from Notre Dame's Prep website

Notre Dame Preparatory and Marist Academy in Pontiac, Michigan breaks up its interior page design with a quote from Fr. Jean-Claude Colin, who became the founder of the Society of Mary.

Georgetown Visitation testimonial

Georgetown Visitation, an all-girls Catholic school in Washington, D.C. takes a similar approach with an inspirational quote from St. Francis de Sales on its Salesian Spirituality page.

Video to show what makes your experience unique

Showing, rather than telling, is a powerful way to communicate your school’s faith. Powerful imagery or videos that capture the essence of your mission can often inspire more effectively than the written word. In some cases, video marketing targets parents better than any other media— having a video on your website or landing page can increase visitor conversions by eighty percent.

St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Massachusetts expands on this idea with its Spiritual Life page, which proudly showcases its Catholic faith and details how students experience “a school of spiritual depth.” A well-produced video shows how faith is lived every day and how the school wants its young men to commit to the mission of making this world a much better place.

Fairfield Prep Media Center

As part of this Catholic high school's website, Fairfield Prep has a media section that includes a collection of photo galleries and videos of campus and community events like recent live-streamed Masses and the father-son communion breakfast. Gathering photos and videos of student activities into one, easy-to-browse media center is a great way to collect and present important moments throughout the academic year, like pep rallies and assemblies.

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston TX details its humble beginnings as a school with 55 young girls, to what has now grown to more than 700 in 50 years. The video that’s shared on its “about” page serves as a reminder of what makes a Sacred Heart education unique.

Key Takeaway

When your Catholic school’s purpose and values need to be shared, there’s no better tool than your website to resonate with families and support enrollment. As your school continues to adapt to changes, your website can be used to share your school’s community and spirit while showcasing the mission and purpose behind your faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.


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