Our 20-year-old daughter Chiana is a sophomore at Marquette University studying nursing. In between her classes and part-time jobs, she does quite a bit of babysitting. She often entertains us with stories about the antics of her young charges.
There was the 3-year-old son of a basketball coach who told her, “Chiana get your head in the game and rebound,” and another 3-year-old who chided her as they played on the floor with dinosaurs. After she pretended that one dinosaur was eating another, he told her, “Chiana, don’t be so violent. We are pacifists.”
But my favorite recent story comes from a 6-year-old boy, also the son of a basketball coach, who had an interesting response when Chiana asked him what he’d like to do when he grows up.
“Oh that’s easy. I either want to be a basketball, football, baseball or hockey player then coach – or a saint.”
Not one to miss an opportunity to share her faith, Chiana told him she thought he could strive to do both – he could be a coach while working toward being a saint, “because being a saint is something we are all trying to do.”
Chiana noted that this youngster attends a Catholic elementary school, and attributed his response to the fact that he does so.
I’m guessing the influence of a Catholic education factored into both the little boy’s aspirations and Chiana’s response.
Catholic schools do offer a value-based education, where in addition to sound academic instruction, they can help indoctrinate students into the faith – and in effect, are laying the groundwork for future saints!
Catholic Schools Week is observed around the country, Jan. 29 to Feb. 4. This is the edition of Catholic Herald Family where we try to shine light on some of the good things happening in our own Milwaukee Archdiocesan schools.
For example, read about two schools, St. Mary, Hales Corners, and St. Matthew, Oak Creek, that have educated more than one generation of several families. The alums felt so strongly about the education they received that when it came time to choose an education for their children, they returned to the Catholic school of their youth.
These stories are rather near and dear to my own heart, as my three daughters have all attended the same high school where I am a graduate, Divine Savior Holy Angels.
Like the families we feature on Pages 10 and 12 in this issue, I value the experience I had at DSHA as a student and when it came time to find a high school for our daughters, I knew that at DSHA, they would not only gain an outstanding education, but would be in an environment where faith and service are incorporated into the day-to-day activities at the school. As the school promises, they will become “believers, critical thinkers, leaders and communicators.”
Yes, this decision meant a great financial sacrifice on the part of my husband and myself, but I already see the return on the investment in the young women they are becoming.
Our older two daughters have chosen to pursue careers in the medical field, motivated by the fact that they will serve others. I’m sure that the many service opportunities they experienced at DSHA played a factor in their decisions.
Our youngest daughter, Alicia, is also planning to attend a Catholic university, drawn to the opportunities to continue to practice her faith through service.
Bob Letsch, featured on Page 18, is another alum who remained connected to his alma mater for 55 years. After graduating from St. Catherine High School in Racine in 1961, he returned four years later to teach and coach, retiring last year more than a half century later.
While he could have gone on to bigger courts in the basketball world, Letsch, too, chose a lifetime in the Catholic school he loved so much.
Then there’s current Marquette University High School student, Jack Bekos, featured on Page 8. He’s a celebrity at his school these days, thanks to an appearance on the popular game show, “Teen Jeopardy.” And Bekos in part attributes his success to the education he received at MUHS.
You’ll hear from some of the youngest people benefitting from a Catholic education on Page 7 with submissions from third graders at St. Alphonsus School, Greendale. At the request of their teacher, Mary Grogan, these students wrote essays, “Why my Catholic education is important to me.”
In some cases, their responses will bring a smile to your face, while others will just warm your heart.
In our archdiocese alone, according to the 2017 Wisconsin Pastoral Handbook, there are 26,869 students in our 90 Catholic elementary schools and 7,442 students in our 15 Catholic high schools in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
Whether or not you are involved directly with Catholic education, it’s something in which all Catholics can take pride. The schools, supported by parishes, are beacons of light in our world, continuing to educate thousands of students, offering a faith-based education. That truly is something to celebrate!