Reflections on the Value of a Catholic Education from a Public School Kid

I wrote this reflection for Catholic Schools Week.  Please forgive its tardiness in arriving on the blog.

I was a public school kid.  My younger brother went to Catholic school from 1st-6th grade, but I opted for the public middle school with an accelerated program.  I didn’t make it to a Catholic school until I was 25 and attending the Augustine Institute for graduate school.

While I’m not married, I do think about how I will educate my children once I have them.  I’ve run through all sorts of possible scenarios in my head, the main one being homeschool for elementary, Catholic school for middle, and public school for high school.  I figured I’d introduce my kids to the world outside my home and the Church in stages, all while saving money by homeschooling and using the public high school.

I mean, let’s face it.  Having a large family and paying the kids’ tuition at a Catholic school is a big expense.  Seeking a Catholic education can mean sacrificing exotic family vacations, restaurant
meals, and having Dad (or Mom) at home more.  As someone who made it through the public school system with a strong faith and relatively unscathed (although I did learn many things about the world I wish I hadn’t), I didn’t always know if the sacrifice was worth it.School adorationAll that changed on the last day of my first quarter as a teacher at St. Timothy’s School.  I was in the office talking with Sharon when the doorbell rang.  I went to open the door and who did I see standing outside but Father Meyer holding the Eucharistic Lord in the monstrance and three student servers dressed in cassocks and surpluses (think black and white) and holding the thurible (incensor) and candles.  Wow, it was a beautiful sight!  I opened the door to them and Father Meyer and the servers proceeded to walk through the school, blessing each room with the monstrance.  School adoration 1Eventually they ended up in the gym where all the school had gathered and we spent 5-10 minutes adoring the Lord together.School adoration 2It is difficult to find the words to describe how touched I was by this experience that happens every quarter at St. Timothy’s.  Growing up, Jesus never came in his Eucharistic form to my school.  I never saw him walk through my halls in the company of a priest and servers.  I never gathered with all my classmates and teachers to worship the  King of kings.  But here, in this Catholic school, there he was.  There we were worshiping him as students, teachers, and staff.  We were boldly proclaiming that Jesus is the Lord of this school and I was amazed.

That moment showed me the value of a Catholic school education.  Yes, students can learn the secular subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the like in any school, but only in a Catholic school is the Catholic faith a part of the daily education.  Only in a Catholic school do the students meet the Eucharistic Lord in their classrooms and during student Masses.  What a blessing we have in Catholic schools!  How blessed I am to work at St. Timothy’s Catholic School!

– Heather Quinlan, St. Timothy’s youth minister and middle school religion teacher

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