Mom stood on the sidewalk like a plane stewardess directing the seven children exiting the station wagon. Dad came around the rear of the car like a pilot who had just commanded another routine landing for his passengers. A man wearing a hat and overalls said something and the two men laughed. Was it my four brothers still tussling with each other? Was it our car, the Rockefeller green, second-hand station wagon that dad said “was too good a deal too to pass up”?
No, the man in overalls simply stated with no surprise: “You must be Catholic.”
Large families anywhere in the South would draw such comments from non-Catholic bystanders. As a child, I remember hearing that remark but I didn’t understand it. But as an adult, I prize that comment. Now I know that our large family stood for something. It meant that we were different, we were unusual, we weren’t the norm — we were Catholic.
Being Catholic was a conscious choice that my parents made for our family. And Catholic education was non-negotiable. My father still proudly reminds us that he was able to give each child something that no one could ever take from them: their Catholic education.
For more than 180 years, Catholic schools in our diocese have provided its students with superior academics, spiritual formation and a deeper understanding of Catholic faith. These pillars of Catholic education have instilled the value of service and gratitude in our Catholic school students.
Seeing former students become good parents, Catholic parishioners, productive citizens and energetic leaders reminds me that Catholic education is a gift that continues to give. Catholic schools are not just memories for former students but an active gift that calls its students to give more than we have received.
Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 is National Catholic School’s Week. Within this week, Many Gifts One Nation; A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools is sponsored by National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in partnership with FACTS Management. On Jan. 29 beginning at 11 a.m. until 11 a.m. Jan. 30 you are invited to go to NCEA.org/csw/manygifts and choose a Catholic school by name and make a donation to the school or diocese of your choice. All of your donation will go to the school or diocese chosen.
Are Catholic schools a proud part of your past as a student or parent? Do you value the role our Catholic schools as an asset to our communities and as an evangelization tool for our Catholic faith? Then consider participating in the national day of giving.
If you do, someone just might comment: “You must be Catholic.”
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