I was blessed with seven years in at the Catholic school associated with my home parish. I am thankful for what those seven years provided me; a strong base for my faith and a community I still love to visit and be a part of. In honor of Catholic Schools Week, I wanted to share four benefits of a Catholic elementary education!
1.) Religious Education
Religion was a grade at St. Lawrence; we had textbooks, worksheets, and activities that helped us piece together what our faith was and why we believed it. We studied the Bible and how it came together to prove who Jesus was. We learned a variety of ways to pray and got to practice them with our peers.
Beyond that, parents can take comfort in knowing that their children are being educated by real educators, not just (wonderful) volunteers who may not be the best at teaching. There is also a greater wealth of resources available to students enrolled in a Catholic school rather than just attending a PSR or Sunday School.
This is a benefit in any good school system, but a Catholic school is generally structured around a parish community. Being a member of the church and school provides kiddos with more opportunities to be participating members of a community. A key to a healthy parish is a sense of community and volunteerism, which a school community can help model and instill in the students.
Although many public schools make altruism a part of their values, students at a Catholic school will get to serve a community they will be a part of for many years. Children learn how to be a member of a community and a good volunteer through modeling and opportunities to practice what they have seen. A Catholic school can provide this in a manner public education does not.
Diversity is important for children to be exposed to, but like-mindedness (majority Catholic) is a healthy environment for young kids to be raised in. Parents can take comfort that their children are spending time with others who have been raised with similar values. Children will be able to share about their culture and traditions with others who will understand what a Rosary is or why they cannot go to a different church on Sundays.
Diversity (which is also important when growing up) can be experienced through extracurricular activities (t-ball, scouts, art classes, etc.)
4.) Variety of Catholic Living
Priests, nuns, married, single, religious... they all come together as educators in the classroom. The more students are exposed to a variety of vocations, the more they are aware of the value that each brings to the greater community. Getting to see that a single man or woman's life is just a fulfilling as a married person's is so healthy for young ones to see. Also getting to see their parish priest play kickball or eat lunch with them is an introduction to the full life that priests live outside of the Mass.
I do believe that public education also provides great things for students, but those early, formative elementary years in a Catholic school were a great mix between the two for myself and my siblings. I am so thankful for my Catholic education!
Did you attend a Catholic school? What do you value about your Catholic education?
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In the past two weeks, we have visited Jesus in the Gospel seeking out his Disciples and calling to them by name. But when Jesus calls to Simon, not only does He invite Simon to join Him, but He renames Simon, now calling Simon “Peter”.
These two Gospels teach us three things about following Jesus, starting with the invitation He offers each of us. When Jesus calls out to the fishermen or tax collectors, He does so indiscriminately. Tax collectors and fishermen were not members of the “in crowd” of the Jewish people. They were stinky (literally or figuratively), blue collared, poor, and uneducated men. But Jesus invited them to become a part of a group that would change the world. And He does the same for each of us. He disregards our past, our dirty laundry, our education and invites us to walk alongside Him throughout our lives.
That invitation is critical. Jesus does not order or demand that we follow Him; He invites. He welcomes us to join Him. He did not want servants or slaves, He wanted friends and disciples who wanted to be a part of Him, not unwilling and bitter underlings. Each of us has been invited by Christ. Each Sunday, He welcomes us into the sanctuary to celebrate His sacrifice. Every day, He invites us to do better and reach for Him. Jesus invites the Apostles to follow Him and does the same for us.
Finally, when we look at Jesus’ interaction with Simon is special. Jesus meets him, Simon accepts Jesus, and Jesus immediately changed Simon’s name. When we accept Jesus into our lives, He immediately changes our names as well, but like Simon, we have to be willing to accept these new names He offers us:
All that remains now is for you to answer the invitation Jesus offers to each of us.
“Come, follow me.”
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