Many inner-city Catholic schools struggling financially

To some extent Chicago's massive Catholic school system appears to have benefitted from the problems at Chicago Public Schools

The superintendent of Catholic schools reports that enrollment at the elementary school level is up.  But depending on private donations in these tough economic times isn't easy, and the end result is pastors devoting more time than ever to fundraising.

Families are hurting at St. Pius V Elementary School in Pilsen, one of nearly 100 inner-city schools operated by the Archdiocese of Chicago.  Layoffs and unemployment have certainly taken their toll.

"The economy is having an effect on them and how much money they make," says Nancy Nasko, principal of St. Pius V School.  "We try to keep tuition and all of the services we offer at a reasonable rate."

"The number one issue and their only question is how they can afford it and what kind of family budgeting could they do," says Father Brendan Curran, pastor of St. Pius V Catholic parish.

With many Spanish-speaking families in this largely immigrant community, St. Pius has had to fill in the gaps, providing tutoring and other support services at the parish youth center, known as Casa Juan Diego.

But to keep these vital services going, pastors like Father Curran have gone into fundraising overdrive, juggling parish responsibilities with the onerous job of raising money.

The Big Shoulders Fund raises millions of dollars for the Catholic school system -- dollars that go towards scholarships for needy students, among other things.

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