Confession: I am a Catholic School Girl, through my first steps into pre-school all the way to my last steps on graduation. Laugh if you want, but I am proud of my catholic education. To me there was no question about going to Catholic schools; my brother’s went through the system, and before them, my parents. For my parents, the decision to enroll us in catholic schools was because they wanted to give us the same great experience they had. For their part they were right, I loved the experiences I gained from Catholic schools. Through those experiences, I have been challenged to discern what I believe and why I believe. I have grown beyond, any expectations I had of myself. Most of all, I value the faith I have gained from Catholic schools. All these statements of what I have learned came to form my belief in Catholic Schools.
Being a Catholic school girl has not always been easy. My faith and beliefs have been tested by both my teachers and others, constantly questioning me, and there have been times where my faith was almost lost. Moving from a liberal Minneapolis Catholic community to a conservative Sioux Falls community challenged my faith most. The move nearly lost my faith, tangled up in the differences of the two communities. Ironically, it was Catholic school that brought me back again. Catholic school taught me to look into myself, to find my faith, with the Church teachings, there to guide me. I was encouraged to ask why and how we, Catholics, believe. By asking questions, I figured out why my parents pushed the importance of Catholic education. When I was the odd-girl out, at soccer or dance, because of my Catholic School girl label, I was not ashamed. I knew what I believed in and where my faith was rooted.
Where the sight of nuns, priests, and rosaries can cause some to turn and run in fear, it is where I, have come to turn to, for help. There are people who believe going to Catholic school, may make you “closed-minded”, “snobbish”, and “strict”. There are others who believe Catholic school keeps you naïve but makes you believe you are superior. I have heard that nuns are crazed and power-hungry, who use any chance they get, to give you a sharp “ruler slap” across the wrists. Still, there are more who believe Catholic schools, change you into one of their clones. They make you throw away any personal beliefs in favor of the beliefs of the Church. All those perceptions come from hearsay and old ways. There was a time in the past, when nuns were strict and pushed their beliefs on you. For me, my experience has been anything but those images. There may have been a nun or two, who needed to get out more, but none slapped me across the wrist. However, all my teachers, in the words of one particular teacher, pushed me to “back my shit up”. They emphasized the importance of Church teachings, but ultimately wanted us, the students, to find our faith and be able to state why. My teachers wanted me to open my mind to new things and become aware of what is going on in the world. They also taught me the value of standing up for what you believe. They even reminded us of the importance of a day spent in the sunshine, lying in the grass, at peace with life, if even for a moment. My experience with Catholic school has been more than “strict” and “closed-minded”, in fact was both enriching and broadening.
I believe in Catholic schools. I would not be the person I am today, without that Catholic part of my schooling. I have been taught to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and the passion there is in living. Without Catholic schooling I would not have the faith that has guided me through my life. Nor would I have the hope. The hope I have in tomorrow and my confidence in my succeeding in life.
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