An Environment of Faith

By Kendra McGuire –

A few years ago I had a conversation with another parent as we waited for our children at soccer practice. We talked about the school our children attended and when he learned my child was in Catholic school he asked how much it cost to attend. At the time, it was probably around $4,000 and he was shocked that we paid that much to attend elementary school.

This was the first time I really thought about <<why>> we were willing to pay this much. As soon as we had children, my husband and I both agreed that Catholic school was the only option for our children no matter the cost. We both had the opportunity to attend Catholic school and we wanted them to have the same experience.

But this question is just as relevant today as it was 10 years ago. Why pay thousands of dollars for your children to attend Catholic school? Is there a really a difference? As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, let’s take time to think about why Catholic education is different and why it is worth the financial sacrifice.

When most of us think about K-12 schooling, we think about preparing our children to learn the knowledge and skills needed to start a career or attend college after high school graduation. If that is our only goal, any school will suffice. But if we want our children to find true joy and success in life, we must teach them about God — their creator. They must learn that he loves them and created them for a purpose.

In Catholic schools, children are immersed in an environment of faith. Every day they learn to speak to God through prayer. They read sacred Scripture, receive the sacraments, and participate in the traditions of our Church. Through these faith-filled environments they are being taught what is good, true and beautiful.

Unfortunately, the world today is filled with sin, ugliness, lies and temptations. It is hard to protect our children from these things as they are often unwelcome guests even in our homes. The devices our children carry expose them to the good and the bad through social media, video games and television. The world is constantly teaching them that materialistic, selfish and lavish lifestyles will bring us success and happiness. Now, more than ever, our children need to learn how to discern what is the truth, how to seek true good and what is real beauty.

As parents, we do our best to teach our children morals and values. Having these reinforced every day at school compliments our efforts. At a certain age, children are eager to hear from people other than their parents. Catholic schools offer a community where the faculty and staff are sharing these same values, not only in the classroom, but also modeling them in all aspects of the school life.

Our Catholic schools are focused not just on educating children but forming them as disciples of Christ. This formation goes outside of the classroom and into the community. They reinforce Jesus’ message of serving one another as brothers and sisters. Caring for members of our community includes everything from filling food pantries, raking leaves, visiting the sick, and collecting supplies for the needy. This work helps our children to learn that we are called by God to serve others throughout our lives. In this work, they realize the joy that comes from giving.

We know that Catholic schools offer excellent educational programs. The test scores speak for themselves. But education is more than just test scores. The formation of the whole person truly prepares children to live their earthly life as God has called them. And this formation shines a light on the path to eternal life, which should be the ultimate goal of every Christian mother and father. To spend eternity in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father, united as one family. This is the value of a Catholic education.

Kendra McGuire is superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Covington, Ky.