Through Varied Lens: The Benefits of Catholic Education

Being a part of Catholic education my entire career has allowed me to see the lasting benefits of Catholic education from a variety of viewpoints. I can speak to the benefits of Catholic education through the lens of a parent, a teacher, an administrator and now superintendent of the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Catholic schools.

As a parent, my two daughters attended the Catholic Schools where I taught or was an administrator throughout their young lives. Our family experienced a level of growth in our understanding and practice of the faith because of our connection to the Catholic school. As the girls learned Catholic prayers in early elementary school, our family learned them, too. My husband and I took our role as the first educators of our children seriously. We set the expectation of how we would practice our faith and honor God in all we do.

When our girls entered high school, they began to attend youth retreats and joined the Walk For Life in DC. Through those experiences we saw how much their love of God grew and deepened. When they went off to college, we knew they attended Mass on their own at the local Catholic Church because, they told us but also because when we visited, the parish pastor would recognize them and reach out to meet the parents of these college students. Their connection to the Catholic faith had become part of who they were outside our immediate family. I’m proud to say that both my daughters became FOCUS missionaries for several years after college and shared their love of God with college students. As married adults with their own families, they continue to cherish and live their Catholic faith to the fullest. They gather other young parents for bible studies throughout the year, continuing to ask God how they can best serve His kingdom.

Through the lens of a Catholic School teacher and administrator, I was witness to the interactions that students have with their teachers in the classroom, in the hallway, as well as in the various clubs and school activities that students participate in. Teachers choose to teach in Catholic schools because they can live and share their faith openly with their students. If you visit a Catholic School, you will likely hear prayer at the beginning of every class. Regardless of the subject matter, connections to God and our Catholic faith are woven into the day-to-day rhythm of school life. You will see teams attending Mass together on the day of competition, and you’ll see the team pray together before and after competitions – sometimes inviting the other team to join them in prayer after a competition.

Through the lens of the Superintendent, I’m so impressed with the teachers who have returned to teach in the Catholic schools where they were once teachers. They do it because they know what they received from the school and want to pass it on to the next generation. I have recently seen former students I taught years ago attending Mass with their young children. Their children are now attending the school they attended when I taught them. The tradition of Catholic education continues with each new generation that comes through our schools.

There is a richness and a meaning to the faith that brings comfort and a sense of centeredness to our lives. When you are a graduate of a Catholic school, you know where to go to keep yourself grounded in the busyness of life. God is always there and desires a deeper relationship with each of us. Sometimes it takes a bit of time and additional life experiences, like starting your own family,  before you remember and return to teach your children about the love of God.

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