Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Type

Professional Project

Degree Name

Masters in Leadership Studies


College of Professional Studies


This research project examined the numerous factors affecting rural Catholic grade schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and their ability to remain a viable educational option for families of rural communities in Southeastern Wisconsin. The literature review provides the history of Catholic education in the United States and details how changing demographics over the past 40 to 50 years within the Catholic population provides significant challenges for this educational model to continue in any geographic setting--inner city, urban, suburban, or rural. The use of interviews assisted with gathering qualitative data to understand the challenges facing the four rural Catholic grade schools participating in this research effort and how successful grade schools tackle these challenges. The findings indicate that while rural Catholic grade schools may have the support of their local parishes, the schools may not have the full support of parents of school-age children. So while the parish may support the school, there is simply no Catholic grade school without children. Thus, rural Catholic grade schools in the Milwaukee Archdiocese are left facing a path of strategic consolidation and regionalization in order for a chance to survive. More importantly, the local parishes of these communities are left with the overwhelming task of re-invigorating the parents of school-age children and infusing in the parents a willingness to accept Catholic culture for