Tim Busch: These 33 Students Just Joined the Church

by Tim Busch
Published In April 24, 2024


That’s the number of students I saw enter the Catholic Church on April 14th.

The place was St. Junipero Serra Catholic High School, in San Juan Capistrano. The celebrant? Diocese of Orange Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer. And what happened on this recent Sunday proves once again that Catholic education truly transforms hearts.

I’m writing this note because this mission is personally important to me. Steph and I founded JSerra, as we call it, in 2003. It’s a private Catholic school that’s independent yet approved by the Diocese of Orange. Twenty-one years later, JSerra now has 1,300 students.

From the start, our vision was to create a beacon of light—a school open to all faiths, but clearly centered in the one true faith. Nearly half of our students are non-Catholic, which provides an opportunity for conversion. Clearly, it’s happening in many young lives.


Credit goes to the spiritual leadership of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, five of whom are at JSerra. The Norbertine priests of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California also play a major role. They celebrate Holy Mass daily and assist in confession, spiritual direction, and the school’s other liturgical needs, going back to 2003.

And just this year, Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann, along with Bishop Freyer, allowed JSerra to launch an RCIA program, through which those 33 students joined the Church. They came from diverse backgrounds, including several international students who had never heard of Jesus Christ prior to attending JSerra.

JSerra’s success comes at a time when so many other Catholic schools are closing. I think that’s partly because we’re shepherded by a lay board, most of whom are parents in the school, and they’ve ensured both academic and athletic excellence. But the biggest reason, of course, is our spiritual commitment to Catholic teaching, without exception. And we’re blessed to have the intercession of St. Junipero Serra, whom Pope Francis canonized in 2015.


I stepped down as JSerra’s Chairman almost ten years ago, and today, we have the outstanding leadership of my successors, Steve Cameron and Kevin Tiber, and the school’s president, Rich Meyer. All of them are friends and attendees of the Napa Institute—I hope you’ll meet them at our summer conference.

And if you’re interested, I hope you’ll watch this quick video about the 33 students who joined the Church. The video was prepared by Sister Miriam, a Dominican who serves as JSerra’s Director of Curriculum. We can all take comfort in this story of the power of Catholic education.


In Faith,

Tim Busch, Founder of Napa Institute

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