By Amanda M. ’17
I have been in a Catholic school my entire life. All I have ever known is a plaid skirt, monthly mass, and religion class, for which I am incredibly grateful. I am grateful for the way Catholic schools have made my faith a part of my daily life. I don’t need to wonder how to bring prayer into my life, because I have been doing it since I was five years old. Thanks to my Catholic education, I know that my faith is a part of every decision that I make, big or small. My morals and values have been shaped by the Catholic tradition I was raised in, and I know there is always a community who will welcome me home. These experiences, both mine and those of every student at a Catholic school, are what Catholic Schools Week is all about.
The major question most people ask is what makes Catholic Schools different from other private or even public schools. Aside from the uniform and the occasional convent, Catholic Schools offer students a place where they can learn about the world around them and their faith tradition. Catholic Schools offer rigorous academic curricula with an emphasis on hard work.
In addition to the academics, Catholic Schools like Mount Alvernia value service and bring our faith into the everyday life of the school. In the Franciscan tradition, we all complete 30 hours of service every year, and each one of those hours has made me a better person. For each additional element of Catholic education I am exposed to, I grow and develop. Catholic education creates well-rounded students that can meet the challenges of adult life with faith, capability, and perseverance.
Catholic education is not free, and it is not easy. My parents have dedicated their money and time to ensure that I experience all the good that Catholic education has to offer. Although it is more expensive than public education, the faith community and the interconnected nature of religion and academics of Catholic education is worth so much more than what we pay. I have made deep friendships with girls who share my faith and my values. I have grown to appreciate the value of service to my community and the importance of religion in my life. Because of Catholic education, I am free to explore my faith and its role in my life in a community of women who understand the path I, and all others like myself, are on, and who can guide me in my journey. These joys of Mount Alvernia, or any other Catholic school, make the sacrifice completely worth it.
My Catholic education will always hold a special place in my heart. When I return to the halls of Mount Alvernia I will remember the times I had in the classroom as well as the chapel. I’ll still be able to sing “Peace I Leave With You” and I’ll know every word of the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. For this Catholic education and the incredible opportunity I am given with it I must thank my parents, all my teachers, Ms. McLaughlin, Ms. Daley, Mrs. Kenney, and everyone else who has shaped me throughout my years at Catholic school. I would like to offer a special thank you to the Missionary Franciscan Sisters who open their doors to us every day and give us shining examples of how to be women of faith. Thank you to the educators, the religious, and my fellow students for giving me a community of both learning and faith where I know I will always belong.
Let us remember how lucky we are to be given these opportunities throughout this Catholic Schools Week and reflect on what Catholic education means for all of us.