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?
Like it, Share it, Comment on it below
Every parent has rites of passage that they are excited to see their child go through: their first steps, their first day of school, her first goal in soccer, his first home run. I cannot wait for my child's first Reconciliation and Holy Communion. The little suits, the nervous practicing of his prayers or readings, that proud look on his face after he received for the first time like an adult, making him feel like a true member of the Church.
Reconciliation is next on the list of sacraments, but Communion is the next sacrament of initiation a member of the Catholic Church receives after Baptism. The Catholic community celebrates the Lord's Supper every Sunday with the Eucharistic celebration that involves the consecration and consumption of bread and wine that has been transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Like a meal we share at home with our family, we are called to celebrate, remember, and eat as a family each Sunday at the Mass. We break the bread and share the cup, not only in remembrance, but in an honest celebration with our community! That is what makes the Eucharist another sacrament of initiation; it is an essential part of our Catholic community! When our newest members get to receive Communion for the first time, the excitement is not just in receiving Jesus for the first time (although that is the most important part!). It is also in the fact that they are now one step closer to being a full member of this community they have either been raised in or have chosen to join.
1 Corinthians, chapter 11 contains a section of instructions on the institution of the Eucharist for the community of Corinth. Take a moment today to read over 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 and reflect on what Paul is trying to teach. Are you attending this "meeting" with the right mindset? Examining yourself and consuming with true belief? Are you participating as a true believer and member of the Catholic community? And are you teaching and modeling these practices to those around you, so that my son and other future members of the Church will know how to follow Paul's instructions based off of our own behaviors! Try to make this Sunday more than a walk in line for a piece of bread, but a real celebration of Jesus' sacrifice and your membership in this community of believers!