This week is National Catholic Schools Week (CSW), celebrating Catholic education in parishes and communities; celebrating the students, families, faculty, staff, and volunteers, and recognizing the value of Catholic education. There is a daily theme for each. On our Facebook page, each day we shared something about our schools. Check it out here.
During CSW, today, Thursday, the theme is vocations (how fitting that I’m writing this blog today!) Therefore, I decided to dedicate this blog to Catholic education, since it was the experience at a Catholic school where God’s call was reignited in my heart and started to nudge me.”
Let’s travel back in time to summer of 2006. After finishing my Master’s Degree, I was ready to jump into the field of education. I interviewed for two jobs, then I went on for a vacation to San Francisco. One morning, when I woke up, I saw two voicemails—both messages were about offering me a job. One was in my (middle-class) neighborhood, and the other one was 35 miles away, but it was a Catholic school in an impoverished area. I was blaming God: “Really? Now I need to choose.” I chose to teach at the Catholic school.
Little did I know how that choice would change me. It unfolded day-by-day. The school’s theme was about living the beatitudes for all five years while I was teaching there. I challenged myself not only to expect students to live the beatitudes, but also myself. In the evenings, I prayed the examination of conscience with the beatitudes. However, praying with this prayer and living the Beatitudes more intentionally, I started to long for more: for a deeper relationship with God. At the same time, the recession hit our country and it especially hit the area where I was teaching. Many people lost their jobs and several became homeless as well. The combination of my being hungry for a deeper relationship with God and for being involved with social justice concerns reignited God’s call for vowed religious life that had been present for a long while. God ‘kept tapping on the door of my heart’ until one day while listening to a song by ABBA (Take a chance on me), I decided to give religious life a try. Being a Dominican, I learned how to use my voice for the voiceless. I’m proud to say, that using one’s voice is taught and encouraged in our schools.
When parents visit schools and try to narrow down which school to choose, they look at the school’s academic performance, its spiritual life, its mission and how it is lived out, and they look at the school’s sense of community. Sounds like the four pillars of Dominican life (prayer, study, community and ministry.)
Catholic Schools don’t just educate. They educate for life. Students study current events and learn to speak up for a more just world. The school community witnesses what following God and sharing in Jesus’ mission is about. That witness speaks louder than any teaching. It doesn’t just educate the mind but it leaves its mark on the heart. It is then no wonder that it was through Catholic education where God’s call for me was reignited.
If you attended a Catholic school, what are you most grateful for? If you wish you would have attended a Catholic school, what is it that you long for and how can those needs be met?
Whether you attended Catholic school or not, perhaps you are searching for something more in your life and are experiencing a call to vowed religious life. One way you can check out this call is to participate in our free Come and See retreat that we are hosting at our Akron Motherhouse, March 15-17, 2019. The retreat is really an excellent way to learn about religious life and to meet our sisters by joining us for prayer, meals and conversation. For details about this retreat, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you would like to talk with one of our Vocation Ministers to help you discern whether God may be calling you to be a religious sister, please click here for our contact information.