When I graduated starry-eyed from college back in the late Middle Ages (1960), little did I know that I would spend much of my life in Catholic education. I was more excited about the prospect of my upcoming engagement and marriage than an actual “career.” (How pre-historic of me!) Careers for ladies back then primarily meant being a wife and mother, and I was good with that, although my love for learning and books never waned. And, still today, it has not. Fifty-five plus years later, the marriage is still there, although these days it is “different” because my mate now has Alzheimer’s.
Looking back on my many happy years as a Catholic educator, I would no more trade them for a fancy high-powered job than I would my husband with all of his new challenges.
What makes being a part of educating children in a Catholic atmosphere so special? Having spent my first teaching year in a large public high school and another in a private, non-sectarian elementary school, I can unqualifiedly say there is an enormous and tangible difference.
While I believe that most teachers are loving, caring individuals who know they will never get rich at their chosen vocation, I positively KNOW that Catholic school teachers go into their schools knowing it isn’t for the money. (What’s a teachers’ union, anyway?) I retired from formal teaching years ago, but when I spend time with our IHM teachers and students at Mass, at Sunday brunches, at Christmas, Saint Patrick’s, Center anniversary programs and graduations, my heart knows that this very special place holds a huge part of it. I know and love the teachers because I see them give their all to their vocations. In the classroom and on the playground, they are one with their students. I know and love the children because they, both individually and collectively, represent the continuation of our Catholic heritage, steeped in the Faith in all aspects of their young lives. They are smiling, eager, enthusiastic to learn, little sponges ready to soak up the love and learning that the teachers offer so unselfishly. Their parents are giving and self-sacrificing, doing their best to raise young Catholics in a very hostile world. I hold them in great admiration.
At IHM School the Catholic Faith is a way of life, shared by the entire community - young and old. The Faith is passed on as it should be - in a living, organic way, not simply as an academic or theological study. The Saints are among us on a daily basis, from our morning Mass and throughout the day. Our religious Brothers and Sisters demonstrate the joy of their dedicated lives that envelope all of us in the love of the beautiful Traditional liturgy and the great gift that we share as willing partners in living the richness of the Faith together. What a priceless treasure we have!