From Father Stephen:
Why I am grateful for my Catholic School education
The above-listed phrase is a fairly typical topic for a Catholic Schools Week essay. In fact, next weekend, at least a couple of the Masses, we will have the opportunity to hear from one of the current students of St. Mary School. In my view, no testimony surpasses that of someone currently attending. I would simply like to share with you, a snippet of my experience of Catholic education “back in the day.”
I attended St. Jude Grade School and Lansdale Catholic High School (both in Pennsylvania). All five of my siblings had attended the former; the latter marked a variance within the family (they attended a different Catholic high school). By this point, my parents could no longer afford to send me, on their own. A generous aunt and uncle stepped forward to close the gap.
While it was certainly my desire to attend Catholic school, I cannot tell you that my school days were always totally joyful; I was almost painfully shy and didn’t mix easily. I cannot tell you that the Catholic schools I attended were absolutely bully-free; my freshman year was one that led me to ask, “What do I have to do to avoid coming back here?”
Nevertheless, I am so thankful that within those campuses, there were exemplary teachers — a mix of priests, vowed religious and lay— who consistently witnessed to me of the difference that manifests when principles of Faith and ethics are able openly to be interwoven into the lessons of various subjects. Even though we did not always perfectly practice the Faith, the standards of Christ were kept before our eyes and minds. I was able to look up at a crucifix in the classroom, and this gave me comfort. I was able to stop by a chapel, for at least a moment during my lunch period. And, I had loving parents who lived the Faith at home!
Here is a prayer that I hope you will join me in praying:
You sent forth your Son as a beacon of hope for all people.
As Teacher, he has given us the prime example of the importance of education. As disciples, we look to him for inspiration and strength. Thank you for the many sisters, brothers, priests, and laypeople who, over many generations, have dedicated their lives in service to our Catholic schools.
Thank you for the teachers and administrators who sustain our schools today. Thank you for the parents who have given support and witness to the importance of Catholic education in their daily lives. Thank you for the students who work hard to further their education. Bless St. Mary Parish School and the many people who advance our mission. May our building be a home for those who seek to grow in faith, knowledge, and service of others. May our community always support one another and exhibit hospitality to newcomers. Fill our minds with knowledge and wisdom. May our understanding of the world help us to grow in appreciation for it. Fill our hearts with gladness. May we always turn to you in times of need.
Fill our hands with the tools we need to serve others.
May we show them your unceasing love through our actions.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us. Amen.