AI in Catholic Education: A Holy Grail or a Double-Edged Sword?

Written by Dr. Joy Lopez, director of information technology and innovation, Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, CA, and improved through the use of AI.

In the age of rapid technological advancement, the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) extends its reach into nearly every facet of our lives, including education. Catholic schools, known for their dedication to delivering high-quality education along with faith and moral principles, are not immune to this rapidly changing trend. As AI expands, its use is gaining traction among educators and schools as they seek to leverage technology to enhance learning experiences. However, as with any technological advancement, adopting AI has advantages and disadvantages that warrant careful consideration.

Over the last year, my colleagues and I have researched, explored and extensively used AI tools as they appeared on the market. I’ve tried to immerse myself in this new ecosystem to learn everything I can to help the teachers and administration of the school. This has led to in-services, new policies and the design of learning opportunities for students and teachers. Outlined in this blog are the advantages and disadvantages of AI and education. It is not an exhaustive list, but these are the main areas that have come up this last year. 


Personalized Learning: One of the most significant advantages of AI in education, including Catholic schools, is its ability to personalize learning experiences. AI-powered systems can analyze students’ strengths, weaknesses and learning preferences, allowing educators to tailor instruction to meet individual needs. This personalized approach can help students excel academically.

Improved Learning Outcomes: With AI, Catholic schools can utilize data-driven insights to refine teaching methods and curricula. Educators can use this data to identify individual areas of improvement and adapt their strategies accordingly. Students are more likely to excel when instruction aligns with their needs and abilities.

Enhanced Teacher Support: AI can assist educators in managing administrative tasks, such as grading, lesson planning and data analysis. This allows teachers more time to focus on classroom instruction and student interaction, (possibly) leading to a more enriching educational experience. Teachers can also receive real-time feedback and find resources, improving their professional development.

Accessibility and Inclusivity: AI-driven tools can help make Catholic education more accessible and inclusive. Speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies can support students with disabilities, ensuring they have equal access to educational resources and opportunities. Additionally, AI-powered translation tools can bridge language barriers and assist with parent/school communication.

Individualized Faith Formation: Catholic schools dedicate themselves to nurturing students’ faith and spiritual growth. AI can aid in this mission by offering personalized faith formation resources and helping students and faculty explore their beliefs in a way that aligns with their unique spiritual journey. 


Data Privacy Concerns: AI relies heavily on collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data, including student information. This raises concerns about data privacy and security. Catholic schools must implement robust safeguards, including AI guidelines for faculty and staff, to protect students’ personal and academic information from potential breaches or misuse.

Teacher-Student Relationships: While AI can enhance the learning process, it should not replace the essential teacher-student relationship that Catholic education emphasizes. Too much reliance on technology may diminish educators’ personal connections with their students.

Technological Overuse: Catholic schools must be cautious not to become overly dependent on AI. More reliance on technology could lead to a reduction in critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students. It is essential to strike a balance between technology and traditional teaching methods. As educators, the need to understand when (at what age) and how to use AI must be continually reviewed.

Socioeconomic Disparities: Not all students have equal access to technology and AI-driven resources. Some Catholic schools may struggle to provide all students with the necessary infrastructure, devices and paid applications, potentially increasing the digital divide.

Ethical Concerns: AI systems are designed and programmed by humans and can carry inherent biases. Catholic schools must ensure that AI technologies do not perpetuate biases or promote ideologies contradicting the Church’s teachings and values. As educational institutions, we need to be aware of these biases and teach our students about them as well.

Closing Thoughts

AI is undoubtedly transforming the landscape of Catholic school education, offering numerous benefits, including personalized learning, improved outcomes and enhanced teacher support. However, it also comes with challenges related to data privacy, teacher-student relationships and potential biases in AI systems. To harness the full potential of AI in Catholic education, institutions must navigate these waters carefully.

The key lies in balancing AI to enhance the educational experience while maintaining the core values and principles that define Catholic education. We ask ourselves, how do we keep what is inherently unique and vital in our schools, how do we form our students, how do we relate to our families and each other and how do we balance this with using artificial intelligence? With thoughtful implementation, technology can be a valuable tool in advancing the mission of Catholic schools, nurturing academic, personal and spiritual growth in the world they will inherit.