Each year, hundreds of joyful disciples receive gifts of faith, hope, and love from our El Camino Network. El Camino, a Catholic faith formation program, helps children, their families, and their teachers to know, love, and serve Christ and His Church; develop the habits, dispositions, and beliefs that are indispensable to human flourishing and happiness; and live as disciples in this world and saints in the next. Our program is grounded in a robust, teacher- and child-friendly catechetical curriculum commissioned by Seton Education Partners, based on Saint John Paul II’s Catechism of the Catholic Church, and aligned to the catechetical guidelines set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The El Camino Catechesis Curriculum received the imprimatur of Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York in 2020.
Why El Camino?
The vast majority (more than 80 percent) of all Catholic children in America now attend public schools. For the five million or more of our Catholic children who live in poverty, too many enroll in troubled public schools. Children not enrolled in Catholic schools generally have the option to attend weekly catechetical classes. These classes do all that they can, but with limited funding and time, they can only cover the bare minimum of catechesis. As more Catholic schools close in our inner cities, there is an exciting opportunity to provide a new way to share the beauty of the Catholic faith with children who do not have access to a Catholic education.
About El Camino
Amidst the shuttering of over sixty Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York—the bulk of which were K-8 schools providing a safe haven to children living in poverty—Cardinal Dolan asked Seton Education Partners to find a new way to evangelize underserved children and their families. In August 2013, Seton launched El Camino, an extended-day faith and enrichment program in a largely Latino neighborhood in the South Bronx, where over half of all families live below the poverty line. Our call: to create a financially sustainable way to provide rich and engaging faith formation and enrichment for children in underserved communities who cannot afford even the low tuition at most urban Catholic schools.
El Camino, which means “The Way” in Spanish, provides Catholic faith formation, activity classes and sports, character development, and homework help through a fun and enriching extended day program. Broadly, we want to help our children to better know, love, and serve Christ; to grow in virtue; to achieve academic success; and to have fun. We also want to strengthen the Church by evangelizing whole families. The program is modeled after a much smaller and very successful pilot program that Seton launched in Oakland, CA.