Catholic schools get a bad rep in the media. Certain elements of pop culture *coughBUZZFEEDcough* describe it as something to be survived rather than appreciated. Granted, many Catholic schools do need reforming, but with Catholic Schools Week taking place next week, we should focus on the positive aspects of going to Catholic school.
Here are 12 positive aspects about going to Catholic school:
1. Getting Dressed in the Morning Was Easy
As a guy, it is hard to dress myself in the morning. There are all these rules about what you can and cannot wear, based on color and where you will be going that day. Now that I am removed from that environment, I miss the simplicity of having a uniform/dress code.
2. Everyone Understood Catholic Things
While I was attending Catholic school, there was no need to make an effort to find a meat-free meal for lunch on Lenten Fridays or to explain why I had dirt on my forehead. My schools made following Church teaching easy.
3. Praying in Class was not Illegal!
School days always began with prayer, and many of my teachers began each class period with a prayer. I especially enjoyed when this was done right before a test. At a public school that could never happen, but at my school we were constantly reminded of the Lord’s presence.
4. No Debate over The Pledge of Allegiance Either
Recently there has been a plethora of incidents in school systems all over the country where an atheist does not want their child saying “One nation under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance and sues the school. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go to school where that distraction is taking place. When I was in school, I would hear those stories and be grateful that an incident like that could never happen at my school. We were able to focus on academics and not The Pledge of Allegiance.
5. My Parents Did Not Have to Worry about What I Was Learning in Health Class
At public schools, students are told that saving oneself for marriage is unrealistic and outdated, a message that clashes with Church teaching. If not this, they are threatened with a large and graphic list of venereal diseases. Sick! I am sure my parents are glad to have escaped worrying about what my siblings and I were learning about sex.
6. Catholic Schools Have a Tradition of Academic Excellence
My high school has been named an NCLB Blue Ribbon School three times and has been named one of the Top 50 Catholic High Schools by the Catholic High School Honor Roll. While I was at O’Gorman, Ken Lindemann, the man who taught me Advanced Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and AP Calculus, was named teacher of the year for the state of South Dakota. I feel extremely blessed to have been able to go to O’Gorman. Oh…. there are other awesome Catholic Schools, too, I just loved mine.
7. Theology Class
Despite what some media sources would have you believe, it is actually possible to learn about the faith in Catholic school. Many young Catholics would not know the faith nearly as well, nor would they have been inspired to study the faith even further on my own time.
8. Confession During School
Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, my school had what my physics teacher referred to as “a Confession-palooza.” Many priests from the surrounding area gathered at my school, and during the period I was scheduled to be in theology class, we went to Confession. Without this opportunity, I am not sure I would have gotten to Confession.
9. Jesus Was There
While attending elementary school, I had the privilege of going to school across the street from Christ the King Church, where Jesus was present in the tabernacle. Catholic Schools typically have their own chapel, meaning Catholic School students go to school in a building where Jesus was present.
10. There Was an Environment in Place to Help Me Grow
Just before my junior year of high school, I had a conversion experience. Following this experience, I was, for the first time in my life, ready to start taking my faith seriously. I knew I needed to start praying more and to cut off sinful habits, but it was not until I started getting involved with the faculty, staff, and other students who shared the faith I wanted to embrace, I was lost. Without their guidance, I would not be writing for EpicPew!
11. Socialization with Priests
One day when I was at Christ the King, our pastor, Fr. Mike, walked across the street to borrow the 6th graders to assist him with changing the hymnals/missals in the church. We stopped class and went across the street with him. However, when we got to the church, we discovered the task he wanted us to do was already done. Like the good students we were, we begged our pastor to not make us go back to class. He agreed, and we spent a couple hours with Fr. Mike. He showed us a few things around the church and gave us a tour of the rectory.
Six years later, I went to Perkin’s (a midwest version of Denny’s) with a group of guys before school to have breakfast with our campus minister, our chaplain, and the diocese’s vocations director.
These moments illustrated to me the humanity of my diocese’s priests. While at Christ the King’s rectory, I discovered that Fr. Mike is a sci-fi fan. At Perkin’s I was amused to watch our chaplain order by pointing at a picture in his menu and saying, “I want that, but instead of hash browns, I want breakfast potatoes. And, instead of a muffin, I want toast.”
Seeing these unique aspects of these priests’ personalities made me realize that priests are people, too. It can be very easy to view priests as these larger than life figures that spend all of their time praying. The reality is, however, that they all have their own hobbies, interests, and eccentricities, just like everyone else. Recognizing that they do have personalities makes them more approachable.
12. Catholic Schools Foster Vocations
The power of influence cannot be underestimated. When virtue and truth are presented in a charitable way, souls are moved and vocations follow.
BONUS: Theology Class
This is a repeat, but it is worth noting that theology courses always boost GPAs.