April 7

Best Places to Raise Catholic Families



This morning I was reading news on my iPad and saw one of Apple’s “iAds” being advertised in the bottom corner.  Normally, like most web surfers, I avoid pop-up ads, but because advertisers are trying to be more creative with their advertising, and making these new iAds more like short games or entertainment, I’ve been curious to see how well different companies implement these features.

The iAd in particular that I saw was for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, and it allowed you to virtually design the perfect place to live.  Not only did it ask about the size of house you’d like, but the amount of neighbors, types of restaurants, and the importance of schools.

One thing it did not include, which was no surprise, was the type and number of Churches you’d like in a potential city or town.

During the years I lived in Columbus, Ohio as a kid, there were a good number of Catholic Churches within a short driving distance.  Living in Atlanta as an adult, the choices are not as many.  Along with that, the ability to send our kids to a parish Catholic school is pretty much an impossibility for many people in many cities.

Jennifer and I often think about relocating to a new city entirely in hopes of giving our children more opportunities in terms of school, activities, and especially their faith community.  If we could pick a perfect home, it would be one located near a Catholic Church with activity communities for young families, older families, singles, married, and the whole gamut of Church life.  We’d love a parish school, and a community that is truly in love with our faith, and that faith is reflected in the entire extended community and not just the Church property.

Does such a place exist?

Not many people know that just a few years ago, we tried to sell our house so that we could move to the Overland Park/Olathe area of Kansas where there are more than 20 parish schools in one county, and all tithing families can send their kids to those schools.

We’ve thought about Front Royal in Virginia, near Christendom college, though we’ve never visited there.

We’ve contemplated Pittsburgh and Steubenville and even Ave Maria, Florida.

Of course, anywhere we’d someday (hopefully) move, we’d only want to do if it was the will of God, and so far God in His wisdom has kept us exactly where we are.  But, still, we feel a tug from time to time.

So what are the best places in the United States, in your opinion, to raise Catholic families, and what would you consider to be the important qualifications for your ideal place to live?

About the author 


Greg is married to Jennifer. They've got five kids.

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  • We are also the parents of 4 boys and a girl, and we LOVE where we live BECAUSE there are SO many Catholic churches! We homeschool, and our parish is bar-none the best for family life. Our Bishop is orthodox, as is our pastor and the families in our parish are beautiful witnesses to life in so many ways! We are the Diocese of Corpus Christi, TX…THE BODY OF CHRIST! San Antonio and Houston (especially southwest Houston) also have great options in terms of the number of Catholic churches and parish schools, but that’s about it for Texas (that I know of). There are 68 parishes and 32 missions within the 12 counties that comprise our diocese. There are 15 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools. Unfortunately, we are lacking on PRACTICING Catholics, but for those who ARE practicing, there are many opportunities! Adoration and daily mass are made easy in this diocese. We love it!

  • I can vouch for the Fort Worth Texas Diocese, as well! We have 17 Catholic elementary schools (pre k – 8) and two high schools. We have 91 parishes in the Diocese. Our parish life is lively and engaged, and we love being Catholic here!

  • I have lived in 5 states and 1 other country. Chicago! might be the best place to raise a Catholic family. I hate the winters, but you can find Parish schools as well as independent Catholic schools and many Catholic homeschooling families. You can find AWESOME churches. Churches that follow the Magisterium of the Catholic church. There are many Latin Masses too. There are many priests that are really leading us closer to Christ! Daily Mass within a 5 mile drive of my house is at 10 different times during the day – no excuse. Some churches have had to move daily Mass from the chapel to the church because chapel’s have been over flowing lately. Adoration is perpetual in many churches. Seek and you will find. It took us 3 years before we found the right school (we are at an independent Catholic school after having tried the parish school). We discerning homeschooling next year not because we are unhappy with our school, but because we want to have that year with our kids to experience some different things before the oldest starts middle school. We have 2 churches within walking distance that have perpetual adoration and several others nearby that have regular hours. I have found women that want to learn more about their faith through orthodox studies (but be careful because their are lots of foo-foo studies out there). Also there is an EXCELLENT Catholic radio station! We have thought about moving many times – job, cost of living, warmer weather, but I can’t imagine finding everything that we have searched for somewhere else. We travel a lot and sometimes finding daily Mass is a challenge and Adoration can be nearly impossible in some places.

    • Chicago is “The Land Of Liberalism” and not the place to raise Catholic children. I moved here 11 years ago from New Jersey (where there where no Catholic schools but many devoted Catholic families). Chicago, does have many parish school (and I did send my kids there for a time) but the education was substandard academically but more surprisingly faithfully. I pulled them out and they attend public school and I home school them in the faith. The whole reason I even found this discussion was that I want so very badly to go where Catholics support each other and uphold the faithful teachings of Holy Mother Church. Chicago is not that place in my humble opinion.

      • I’m a convert to Roman Catholicism (formerly a devout evangelical Christian). I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area nearly all my life. We commute into the city to attend Saint John Cantius – an awesome Catholic church, great community – many devout families, Latin and traditional masses, sometimes up to four Priests offering confessions simultaneously on a Sunday before, after, and throughout the mass… I wouldn’t judge a city “good” for Catholics based on the *number* of churches/parishes/schools; to be “good” it has to be all about the community and the Priests/leaders (the health of the local Body of Christ). While it’s not feasible for everyone, and not a rule, I’ve found this thumb rule usually accurate: the more homeschooling Catholics there are, the more devout of a community there is. Why would I say this? It often means they have a high standard for the spiritual education of their children, they have a sacrificial disposition (believe me, homeschooling is a selfless act), they have St. JPII’s view of the importance of family,etc. Other signs of health: Latin/High mass, perpetual adoration, alter *boys*, frequent confession ops,…
        Now if I could transplant this community to a warmer climate, with better politics, lower taxes, cheaper cost of living…show me the way!

  • I am in a similar situation as Greg and Jennifer. We recently moved to a small town in North Carolina about an hour and a half north west of Charlotte, from Sierra Vista, Arizona. In Arizona my chidlren went to Catholic School where I also taught. They had gone there since they were three and we loved it there. The family atomshpere was so wonderful. We knew everyone and had a great support system through our school and church family. In North Carolina catholic churches are few and far between and the closest Catholic School is over an hour away. My children are ajusting to the charter school the are going to, but they miss being with other chidlren with similar beliefs. Catholics are definitely a minority here. I am not adjusting well and I want my husband to look for a job in an area with a strong catholic community. Our church here is very small. It is nice, but I long for something more.

    • Dear Kristen,
      After many years of living around Catholics, all the neighbors were Catholic, all shared great concern for the faith of their children. Many homeschooled , Catholic schooled, or had started Academies. We now live in a small town in Kansas, away from everything. The Catholic faith is nominal . My husband commutes because his initial job did not pan out. My kids are in Public School, and I am not liking this situation at all. I will pray for you. I hope things are better than they were back in April. I do know God can work in mysterious ways. And even yet my kids may turn out just as He had planned.
      Peace in Christ,

  • I agree with the comment about Chicago. I have lived in quite a few states and have found that there are many Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs similar to what they described. The description also sounds just like St Paul, MN and St Louis, MO. All three of these cities have neighborhoods where you can walk to church and possibly walk a little further to a few other Catholic churches too. Please don’t get St Paul confused with Minneapolis, they are very different when it comes to the Church.

  • we are considering moving from Long Island, NY, but find it hard to find information about parishes in other places. are there any websites out there to help? Thanks.

  • So I know this is way way late but I saw it because of someone else responding….DONT MOVE TO FRONT ROYAL. I went to high school there and it is lovely but there is only one Catholic Church and if you don’t like it you’re screwed. The town, while getting bigger is still small and its a good 45mins from anything. Its lovely but if you’re looking for opportunities, it isn’t the place to be.

  • The Lincoln, NE diocese is one of the most conservative in the nation. And having families and friends in KS and Ne it has a remarkably honest population. Many of the pumpkin patches and orchards were run by the “honor code”. The owners left out a tin can and a list of what everything cost and you put it in. There is an FSSP in the Lincoln diocese. Also, near St. Louis, MO. Different small towns near St. Louis are extremely Catholic. I go up there a lot and while there are some questionable Catholics, I think by and large even the more liberal Catholics tend to agree with most things the Church teaches. I would stay away from the diocese of Jefferson City, MO. Following along the Missouri river are small little Catholic towns that are pretty traditional and my experience with these is that there are many woodland shrines and the churches have a very old-European atmosphere.

  • I would appreciate any current advice and opinions regarding “ideal” cities/towns for Catholic families, especially those who aspire to homeschool. Thank you.

  • I love the Atlanta area there are not a ton of Catholics but the ones that are you can find a lot that are on fire. We participate in a hybrid homeschool program called Regina Caeli Academy, which actually has centers across the country, and have found that Catholic Community as well as our home Parish of St Brigid to be an amazing Parish with over 4,000 families yet you still feel like you’re a part of everything. A big part of this is the Christ renews his Parish program. I think the key to any city is finding some Dynamic Catholics who love their faith and sitting down and connecting with them and finding out where the pockets of joy filled Catholics are. So if anybody is moving to the Atlanta area please feel free to call me and I will help in anyway I can. We are also working on creating a Catholic Community in the mountains where people could go for a weekend to get away and enjoy each other’s company and share our faith. Pray for us and we will pray for you

  • We live on the eastern side of KC, MO. It is one of the rudest and not friendly places i have ever lived. The Catholics act like Protestants. When we have friends visit, they always state they have never been to Mass like this or with people like this. The parishioners are not welcoming to new members. A lot of people in this area do not believe in church or attend if they do. I cannot wait to move but, alas, God says no.

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