Guide to Enrolling in Catholic Schools in San Antonio for 2021–2022

two students with red sweaters with saint mary magdalen school logo

Catholic schools in San Antonio have a long tradition of high quality education, as well as faith and character formation. In anticipation of Celebrate Catholic Schools Week, January 31 to February 6, 2021, we have prepared a guide to San Antonio Catholic schools to help you learn more about them, as well as discover how to enroll your children and apply for financial aid, and a close-up look at one local campus, Saint Mary Magdalen School.

About Catholic Schools in San Antonio

Catholic schools are an essential part of the history of education in San Antonio. The first Catholic school in San Antonio, Ursuline Academy (now the Southwest School of Art), was founded in 1851; Central Catholic High School was founded in 1852. Guided by the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Catholic schools educate students through “higher thought and prayer.” 

What are the distinctive features of Catholic school culture? Around each school, families, teachers, and students form a Christ-centered community, expressed through acts of service. The schools partner with parents and parishes, and students engage in their local communities and beyond. 

Catholic schools strive for academic excellence, and also work to make their programs affordable for more families. Hope for the Future is a tuition assistance program that awards over $2 million per year in scholarships to families. 

Catholic schools have a track record of success, especially for students of color. Data show that 99 percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school on time; of those, 86 percent attend college. A black or Latino child is 42 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 2.5 times more likely to graduate from college if he or she attends a Catholic school. They are also less likely to be incarcerated.

Students who grow up in Catholic schools are more likely to keep their Catholic identities as adults through daily prayer, church attendance, and charitable giving. Also, studies show that Catholic school graduates are more civically engaged and more likely to vote than peers who went to other schools. As adults, they are more likely to serve their communities. 

To read more about Catholic schools in the news, we recommend that you click on the articles linked at the bottom of this post. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current Catholic school families who can comment with answers based on their own experiences.

Focus on Saint Mary Magdalen School

Every parish and school in the Archdiocese of San Antonio has unique features, including academic programs and special events. For this post, we chose to focus on one school, Saint Mary Magdalen School, for a closer look. Principal William Daily is a school choice supporter, as well as a strong advocate for Catholic education.

Saint Mary Magdalen School serves students in grades PK3–8. The school was founded in 1942 and is located just northwest of downtown San Antonio. As the city has grown and changed around the campus, the school has evolved to help prepare its students for the world ahead, while staying true to Catholic values.

Academically, the dual language program at Saint Mary Magdalen School sets it apart from other Catholic and private schools in San Antonio. Students learn in both English and Spanish, across multiple subjects. They build practical language skills that will serve them in their careers and lives, and the flexibility of working in both languages will build their creativity and executive function skills. Learning to be bilingual and bicultural helps bring together students who come from diverse countries of origin and economic backgrounds. They may speak different languages at home, but on campus they can converse in both English and Spanish, and build bridges across neighborhoods and around the world.

Faith is integral at St. Mary Magdalen and supports the overall well being of students. Principal William Daily explained that, when facing the gravity of events like the pandemic, students can turn to their faith as a source of resilience. They are better able to make sense of events and face challenges. Nevertheless, the school has adapted to modern technology and distance learning. Even before the pandemic, they offered 1:1 technology, issuing devices and hotspots to every student.

The culture at Saint Mary Magdalen School is built on events that build community. Athletics continue, with pandemic precautions. Students attend mass regularly and experience traditions like Matachines to honor La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Families who want to learn more about Saint Mary Magdalen School can contact the campus to set up a tour, either in person or virtual. Principal Daily invites parents to reach out to him, by phone at 210-735-1381 or by email at william.daily@stmmsa.org, so he can tell them more about the school and how they are keeping students safe and learning.

Catholic Schools in San Antonio

As of the 2020–21 school year, there are 37 schools in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, including 10 high schools. 

At satxcatholic.org, there is a user-friendly school finder tool with a map and filters to help you narrow down your search among schools in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

School finder Archdiocese of San Antonio Catholic Schools map

Like all private schools in Texas, Catholic schools in San Antonio do not need to administer state mandated standardized tests, so there is no accountability data or school report cards to share. For more information about enrolling at private schools in San Antonio, see “Your Guide to San Antonio Private Schools: 2020–21” from San Antonio Magazine.

Enroll at San Antonio Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools Week in late January is a good reminder to submit your applications because many Catholic schools conduct registration in February for the upcoming school year. Catholic school applications may ask for records such as birth certificates, report cards, and standardized test scores. They may also interview students and their families, and ask students to take an academic readiness test. For students with special needs, the schools will meet with the students and their families to determine whether the school can meet the students’ needs. Catholic schools may ask for Baptism and First Holy Communion records, and give priority to families who are parishioners.

Each campus conducts its own registration process, so it’s best to check with each school for details about procedures, fees, and deadlines. Church newsletters and bulletins can be a good source of information. Social media can also offer a glimpse in to school events and celebrations; we recommend following these accounts:

In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about San Antonio Catholic schools.

Catholic schools offer financial aid to students based on need. Hope for the Future is the financial assistance program of the Archdiocese of San Antonio; applications open in January for the upcoming school year. The generosity of parishoners helps lower the cost of tuition at Catholic schools. 

Catholic schools in San Antonio are full of tradition and culture, and help students grow in academic knowledge as well as faith and character. We hope that Celebrate Catholic Schools Week inspires you to take a closer look at the schools in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Charter Moms Chats

Watch William Daily, Principal of Saint Mary Magdalen School, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on January 19, 2021 at 4 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

William Daily is the principal of Saint Mary Magdalen School. He has a BA from Boston College, an MA in International Political Science from Marquette University, an MA in Education from Mount Mary University, and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He completed the Emmaus Series for Catholic School Leaders at Boston College in the spring of 2016. He has been an educator since 2001.

Read More About San Antonio Catholic Schools

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A nonprofit that helps parents to research school options and become advocates for high quality education.

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