One by one, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has closed a number of Catholic schools, mainly due to declining enrollments.

But yesterday the archdiocese announced that it's not going to allow the student numbers to keep dropping.

The Archdiocese Office of Catholic Education yesterday kicked off a $500,000 marketing campaign to encourage families in the five-county area to consider Catholic education for their children.

Called "Keeping Faith in Mind," the campaign will be heard on radio and seen in newspaper ads and on SEPTA buses with photos of children with the words: "Put faith in me" or "I'm worth a Catholic education."

Over the last five years, the number of Catholic elementary schools has dropped from 211 to 187, archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell said.

Catholic high school enrollment also has declined, but not as much, she said.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden said the campaign also will urge business leaders to "invest in a child's future."

"This is a social-justice issue," McFadden said yesterday as the campaign was announced at St. Matthew Catholic elementary school, Cottman Avenue and Hawthorne Street, in Mayfair. He said a lack of funds shouldn't keep a family from enrolling children in a Catholic school.

The education office showed off buses with the banner ads at St. Matthew.

Farrell said the archdiocese will encourage businesses to apply for Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), which allows a business to get a tax credit for helping education.

Farrell said there already is a Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) made up of people of all faiths "who believe students coming out of Catholic schools" are good for their business.

McFadden said that even though enrollment has been declining in recent years, the archdiocese sees growth possibilities in the suburbs and would like to build two new high schools. The first would likely be built in Royersford, Montgomery County. Another may be planned for Hilltown Township, Bucks County.

As part of the campaign, the archdiocese has launched a Web site, www.keepingfaithinmind.

org, that describes the programs at all of the schools in the five-county region. *