The Diocese of Joliet, Illinois has started efforts to recruit and enroll more Latino students in Catholic schools as the Latino population in the area increases, officials said.

The Diocese of Joliet has seen a 40 percent increase in Latino students at its elementary schools since 2010, The (Joliet) Herald-News reported. In response, the diocese is reaching out to those families, the Rev. John Belmonte, Catholic schools superintendent, said.

“We should be offering Catholic education to our growing Latinos (population) just as we had to other immigrants throughout our history,” he said.

Census Bureau data from 2010 show Latinos make up about 28 percent of the Joliet population. That’s compared to about 18 percent in 2000.

Even though there are more Latino students, the Diocese of Joliet has seen overall declining enrollment, which fell 2 percent from the 2011-12 school year to the 2013-14 school year.