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Column: A place where everybody knows his name

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

Not long ago, I received cards from young students in our schools. I was impressed with both the sophistication and clarity of their thoughts about attending a Catholic school. One eighth-grader wrote: “Being able to be in a Catholic school is great for me because I love to learn about God.” Another student wrote: “I am so glad . . . the schools [think] faith first. That brings all of us closer to God and … Jesus Christ.”

A third eighth-grade student from another school wrote a beautiful letter expressing why she wants to continue her education in a Catholic high school:

“I have been in Catholic education for nine years, and I desire to continue through high school. I have been on a journey of self discovery, especially concerning my faith life. I have been told for as long as I can remember that Jesus loves me and died for me to save me from my sins. However, recently, I have begun to ask questions of more depth; I am fearful of not being able to continue fully exploring these answers. I feel that attending [a Catholic high school] would be invaluable in allowing me to discuss my faith with other students who share the same values. . . . By attending [a Catholic high school] I believe my spirituality will be strengthened and provide me with opportunities to express my faith more fully.”

Yet another student commented to his parents after he visited a Catholic elementary school, “I like it here. The students seem more like me.” When his parents asked him what he meant, he said, “I don’t know. . . . I think their faith seems important to them.” This remark was from a student who enjoyed the public school he had been attending and had not asked to go to a Catholic school.

What is gratifying to me about these students’ thoughts is that they clearly understand the essence of Catholic schools — faith — and they see the difference and the importance of Catholic schools’ freedom to focus on the faith. In addition, and perhaps more critical, these students recognize this difference in the hallways of the schools, and they like that difference!

Sometimes, I think we, as parents, underestimate the negative influences in society on our children. We think that the values we provide for them at home will protect them from the secularism they encounter. The words of these students tell me they need and want more. Catholic schools are, indeed, your child’s future — now and forever!

¡Vaya con Dios!

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Kathy O'Hara

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