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Catholic education is a gift

 

by KATHLEEN CARR

I’ll never forget the time my dad and I talked about the difference between public and private schools. He said that I went to a Catholic school, and he thought that it was very important for me to learn about God. In public schools, he explained, children aren’t given the chance to go to Mass every week or pray every day. “You mean they don’t take time to think about God or anything?” I asked, with a tone of 6-year-old disbelief. “Well, I don’t want to go there, then.”

My view hasn’t changed much. After 12 years of Catholic education, I still can’t imagine going to a place where I wasn’t given the opportunity to think about God every day.

Granted, going to Mass weekly and praying every morning may not have always been my adolescent mind’s idea of a barrel of fun. However, I really can’t envision my educational experience without those things. I realize now that I’m privileged to have had those opportunities: Not many kids get to stop by the chapel between classes or look forward to a schoolwide reconciliation service.

As I grow older, I realize more and more that my Catholic education is a gift. One opportunity offered to me through my Catholic education was the guidance I received from my second-grade teacher, Sister Marian Coughlin. She wasn’t the stereotypical, ruler-snapping, bottom-spanking Catholic elementary school nun. In fact, she could be called quite the opposite. Sister Marian taught me more than cursive and multiplication; she opened my eyes to the loving message of Christ. From her example, I learned that a life with Christ is a life of happiness. Sister Marian later became my confirmation sponsor, and she still is my good friend.

“As an institution of the Catholic Church, it is the mission of Bishop England High School to foster a faith community characterized by the Gospel message of mutual respect and charity.” This statement forms the basis of the Bishop England community. As a result, my parents recognized from the beginning that the top-notch learning environment provided to students at Bishop England is rooted in the school’s firm belief in spreading the Good News and sharing the love of Christ with every student that walks the hallways.

I feel this message of love and support from my school every day through the work and smiles of teachers and students. I have gained much from my experience at Bishop England; the reason for this positive reflection stems from the school’s desire to establish a Christ-centered community.

The Bishop England Retreat Team has definitely been a life-changing experience for me. As a campus ministry organization, it has taught me to live my faith daily by being Christ to my peers. Also, it is a great support to surround myself with people who are as committed to Christ as I am. I feel blessed to have been given the chance to meet them and get to know them. Christians can be found at any school — public or private — but the retreat team is something that I could have only experienced within the environment of a Catholic school.

My last year of Catholic schooling … I didn’t think it would ever come. True, these 12 years have offered me priceless opportunities that I wouldn’t trade for the world. But, I’m ready for a change. I’ve never experienced education outside of the Catholic school environment, and I’m looking forward to using the next four years to broaden my horizons. On that note, I feel prepared and ready to take on the world using the knowledge and insight that Catholic education has given me.

I’m moving to New York City this fall; I’ll be attending Columbia University. Big city bustle and student life at Columbia will both be big adjustments for me, but I’m looking forward to every minute. Experiencing something new and different doesn’t mean that my Catholic opinions will change, though it does mean that I will have the opportunity to increase my awareness of the perspectives of others. Hopefully some of my 12 years of Catholic schooling will rub off on them.

Kathleen Carr is a senior at Bishop England High School and is editor of the student newspaper.






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