August 27, 2021

40 of the Best Joys and Blessings of Catholic Schools during the Late Summer/Fall Season

Benedictine Father Mateo Zamora waits on Aug. 15 to process into the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. The monk professed solemn vows that day as a member of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. He is holding a “vow chart,” which is a handwritten document that expresses a Benedictine monk’s vows of obedience, fidelity to the monastic way of life and stability. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)
By John Shaughnessy

As another school year gets underway, it brings the return of many of the joys and blessings connected with Catholic schools.

In celebration of this time of year, The Criterion offers this list of “40 of the Best Joys and Blessings of Catholic Schools during the Late Summer/Fall Season.” (Feel free to add your own favorites.)
 

• Friday night high school football games under the lights.

• Kickball in all its glory, from girls putting ribbons in their hair before a game to the searing intensity of the way the game is played on the southside of Indianapolis.

• Living rosaries and other events to honor the Blessed Mother in October.

• School Masses celebrating the importance of Christ’s gift of the Eucharist.

• Teachers, principals and staff members who choose to work in Catholic schools, accepting less money than they could make elsewhere because they want to be in a setting where they can teach, share and live their faith with students.

• Grade school children learning about and dressing up as their favorite saint on All Saints Day.

• Parents who sacrifice to provide a Catholic education for their children, believing it’s the foundation needed for their children’s faith and their futures.

• Faith partners—when students in the upper grades of a school serve as a buddy/inspiration/role model to students in the early grades, with both of their lives being touched by the experience.

• The number of men and women who return to their Catholic grade school or high school to teach or coach, because they want to help give current students the life-defining experience they had.

• A three-course meal at the concession stand—a hot dog, popcorn and candy bar.

Benedictine Father Mateo Zamora waits on Aug. 15 to process into the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. The monk professed solemn vows that day as a member of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. He is holding a “vow chart,” which is a handwritten document that expresses a Benedictine monk’s vows of obedience, fidelity to the monastic way of life and stability. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)• Saturday spectator sports extravaganza, with September Saturdays offering a choice of Catholic high school sports that include cross country, boys’ tennis, girls’ golf, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and girls’ volleyball.

• Praying with teammates before a game.

• Praying with opponents after a game.

• Praying aloud at the beginning and/or the ending of a class or school day.

• Praying aloud whenever the situation calls for it.

• A child’s promise to God that he or she will be a better brother, sister, son, daughter, friend and person if he helps them do well in a test and/or win a game.

• Teams wearing their Catholic Youth Organization uniforms to their parish’s Mass and getting blessings from the priest and prayers from the congregation.

• All-day service efforts—when students, teachers and staff members from a Catholic high school dedicate a full day to go into the community to help different organizations that assist people in need.

• Every-day service efforts that students do with a lot of care and without any fanfare.

• Homilies at a school Mass in which a priest engages students at their level, giving them a sense of the joy and the bond with Jesus that comes through living one’s faith.

• Longtime students who welcome a new student to their school and into their group of friends.

• The beginning of life-changing and faith-affirming spiritual retreats for high school students.

• Retreats at Camp Rancho Framasa, the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) camp.

• Schools that become an extended family for the children and youths who attend them.

• Schools that also become a community of faith and friendship for the parents of schoolchildren.

Benedictine Father Mateo Zamora waits on Aug. 15 to process into the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. The monk professed solemn vows that day as a member of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. He is holding a “vow chart,” which is a handwritten document that expresses a Benedictine monk’s vows of obedience, fidelity to the monastic way of life and stability. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)• Families that provide meals and support to other families in times of heartbreak and crisis.

• Parents who drive their child and his or her teammates to a CYO game, which leads to the gifts of seeing how they all interact, and hearing what’s fun, challenging and important to them.

• Coaches who view the lessons in life and faith that they share with their players as more important than their win-loss record.

• Hearing high school students speak glowingly about a school that has shaped their lives and deepened their faith.

• Priests who show up at games to cheer for their parish teams.

• Volunteer coaches arranging their work schedules so they can get to their team’s CYO game on the other side of the city during rush hour.

• People waiting patiently in line at a concession stand as a small child at the front of the line tries to make the daunting decision of choosing popcorn or nachos, Skittles or M&Ms.

• Teachers who integrate lessons of faith into their lessons of English, history, social studies, science and math.

• Teachers who arrive early at school or stay late after school to help struggling students.

• High school religion teachers who strive to share the foundations and blessings of the Catholic faith with teenagers who live in a society and a culture often at odds with the teachings of Christ.

• A more comfortable wardrobe for parents of high school student-athletes as they realize that the clothes they most often wear now are T-shirts or sweatshirts of their children’s high schools.

• The intensity of games between Catholic high school rivals.

• Rival Catholic high school teams coming together for a fundraiser for cancer research or another worthy cause.

• Students leading canned food drives and high schools providing a Thanksgiving dinner for families and individuals in need.

• Homecoming events, parish festivals and other celebrations that bring different generations together to a Catholic school that has left its mark on people’s lives and faith. †

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