Column: Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you choose a Catholic school

Kathy O'Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.
Kathy O’Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

It seems like just yesterday our family was facing the decision about where our children would go to high school.

We were blessed to send our children to Catholic elementary schools. However, when we faced the decision about high school, we were heartbroken. We could see no way that we could afford Catholic high school. My husband Jim and I had many reservations about asking for and accepting any financial assistance. Ultimately, we decided to explore financial aid with the understanding that our family, children included, would intentionally find ways that we would contribute and give back beyond any monetary assistance we could receive.

Once we made that decision, our oldest son began the process of touring Catholic high schools, including a private, all-boys school. Jim had attended an all-male Catholic high school in Pennsylvania. It was a great experience for him, so we were open to this as we considered schools.

Our choice narrowed to two: the Catholic high school closest to where we lived at the time and an all-boys private school. In the end, what pointed us in the direction of a coed Catholic high school was the recognition that the world had changed tremendously since the days when Jim and I were in high school. We decided that a coed environment was a better match for our children because the world is coed. Furthermore, we thought it was important for our children to learn about the beauty of God’s plan for the roles of men and women in an environment where they would encounter both genders.

I empathize with families making these high school decisions today. We all want to do what we think is best for our children. Now that we have the benefit of hindsight, Jim and I realize that the Holy Spirit guided us in the entire high school decision making process and helped us understand how much more important it is to consider both the long-term heavenly benefits of Catholic schools as well as the short-term secular benefits.

As I look back, I am so grateful for all who were involved in helping us provide a Catholic, coed high school education for our children. I am grateful that we still have those opportunities for today’s parents.

If you are facing the high school decision in your family, I would encourage you to contact the presidents of the Catholic high schools in our archdiocese and also to call upon the Holy Spirit so that he will guide your family as he did ours. I will keep you in my prayers.

¡Vaya con Dios!

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