The following blog recently appeared in the new "Being Catholic" portion of our Archdiocesan website. The blog was written by Fr. Dave Endres, a professor at the Seminary, Catholic school graduate, and former teacher at Fenwick High School. Enjoy!
A couple of years back I was giving a talk on the priesthood to a class of first graders. With their teacher’s help, the students came up with some questions to ask me. One asked, “How many years of school does it take to be a priest?” I said that for most people, it is six or seven years in the seminary. But that I had gone to Catholic schools for 23 years in a row (elementary school, high school, graduate school, and seminary).
So then I turned the question on them – if I have been in school that long, how old do you think I am now? A little girl confidently answered: “You must be at least 60!”
It got me thinking – first, how old I must have appeared to a first grader (especially since I was 29 at that time!), but more importantly, how significant Catholic education has been in my life. 23 years as a student in Catholic schools and now the past 3 years as a teacher in Catholic schools.
We have a proud tradition of Catholic education in our diocese. Many of us were educated in parochial schools – maybe not for 23 years – but maybe for 8 or 12. Many have had children or grandchildren in Catholic schools. And many of the parishioners and parents in our diocese have sacrificed financially to provide for Catholic education.
How important are our schools? They are more important than ever. It is increasingly clear that the values of our culture and our society are at odds with the values of our faith, the teachings of Christ. It is difficult to form young men and women in the faith with an hour of instruction a week, but when immersed in a Catholic environment, the values of our faith can be more easily assimilated.
It is probably no surprise, but the most significant indicators of whether a child will practice their Catholic faith as an adult is whether their parents modeled that faith through weekly Mass attendance, frequent reception of the sacraments and prayer in the home – and whether the child attended a Catholic school.
We know that our schools are not perfect; some could do better in teaching and modeling the faith. I suspect we all could do better at times. But there is something invaluable and intangible that is imparted through Catholic schools.
Would I be a priest without having attended Catholic schools? I am not sure. Some have met spouses and lifelong friends through Catholic schools. I know my life would be very different without Catholic education. I know that for many of us our lives are abundantly richer because of Catholic schools.
- Fr. Dave Endres