Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The gift of Catholic schools

By Sr. Sandy Howe

During this Catholic Schools week, I find myself reflecting on my Catholic education.

I was blessed to attend Catholic grade school, high school and college, and I believe that is where my faith formation and love for my Catholic faith began and continued.

I am most grateful to be in a ministry where I can share my faith with other young people.  As the community service coordinator and working in campus ministry at Seton High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, I have the privilege and blessing to work with others who are active with their faith.

Students are able to pray, discuss, share their faith and beliefs and love of God and others with one another; whether it is during retreats, days of reflection, liturgies, prayer services, community service, mission trips, March for Life, National Catholic Youth Conference, workshops, and more.  It provides many life-enriching and life-changing experiences for them and for myself.  We also start each day and class with prayer.  Staff and students are very grateful for this daily practice.

Last week, we planned an all day experience called "Spark the Sisterhood.”  We had an inspirational speaker, Nick Jackson, activities like “minute to win it” games, sharing questions and answers, faith-sharing and a communion prayer service.  The day and experience was AWESOME for students and staff alike – one of the many true blessings of being in a Catholic school.


This week, some will attend the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Week Mass with the archbishop.  At school, we’ll have Catholic trivia during lunch, cake for all students, and a movie, God is Not Dead.  It’s a gift to share all of this with our wonderful students.

Some students decided this week to put caution tape over all religious articles in the building, as well as anything that wouldn't be there if we weren't a Catholic school: the chapel, my office, campus minister’s office, religion class spaces, etc.  It was a great conversation piece!  Many students wondered as they walked in Monday morning, "What is all the caution tape for?"  They were intrigued once it was explained to them.  It really made them realize how much they would be missing without the gift of Catholic school.

I took the opportunity to ask a few students what it means for them to be able to go to a Catholic school:

"Going to a catholic school has shaped who I am morally.  I have been allowed to express my faith in the classroom, through opportunities my school has provided and through sports.  It is amazing that I am able to express myself fully with no constraints." (Jessica)

"Going to a Catholic school means the world to me.  Everyday I thank God that I am able to attend a religious school and have a catholic education; especially a school as great as Seton High School."  (Mary)

"I am blessed to have been able to attend a Catholic school.  Through mission trips, March for Life, National Catholic Youth Conference, Saints for Life, campus ministry, retreats, religion classes, community service and others I have come to realize  how strong my faith has grown throughout the past 3 1/2 years.  With each one of these experiences I have been able to truly see the blessings of being a child of God.  The Catholic education provided here has shaped and strengthened me into a better person and better Christian.  I cherish my faith and the people of faith whom I have been so blessed to have in my life.  Not only do they educate my mind, they educate my heart as well.  These people have become my biggest support, mentors, & life coaches.  Without them, and without my Catholic education, there is no way I would have become who I am today."  (Phuong)

I am grateful to have received the gift of a Catholic education and now to contribute to giving that gift to a new generation of Catholics.  Happy Catholics Schools Week to all!

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