Let’s throw it back to August 2004. My first baby, my sweet little girl with bobbed hair wearing a cute plaid jumper, was heading off to her first day of kindergarten.
My clingy one, my shy dreamer, the little girl God sent as a flashing billboard sign that my vocation was to be a mother.
In the blink of an eye she was gone, the first of many firsts in her journey to independence.
My husband and I thought long and hard when we made the decision to send her to the Catholic grade school connected to our parish. We worried about finances, pondering if Catholic education was really worth it.
As my daughter walked to her classroom on that emotional first day, my heart knew we had made the right decision for our family.
You see, when she walked through those front doors, she would see a statue of Jesus. A picture of the Pope (now St. John Paul II!) hung by the principal’s office, along with many other pictures of saints. Images of our Blessed Mother lined the hallways, and a crucifix hung in every classroom.
In the fall of 2015, we will send our seventh baby to kindergarten for the first time. It never gets easier and is always bittersweet.
Why do we sacrifice to send our children to Catholic schools?
Prayer at home starts my children’s day and ends it, with prayer at school filling in the middle.
My kids are reminded at school that they are unique children of God. Each one of them has special talents and God-given vocations. They are encouraged to follow God’s call.
My husband and I have witnessed living Jesse Trees, living Rosaries, oral saints presentations, and countless school masses. We have heard sweet little voices praising God in the choir and spreading the Good News during scripture readings.
Our walls are plastered with coloring pictures of saints, Advent candle creations, and posters about the sanctity of life. Homework folders are filled with math and science work, but beautiful essays and poems about Jesus are what make me proudest.
My children become comfortable at mass, while at the same time reverent of the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Their friends are there with them, raising their hands to answer Father’s questions in earnest during the homily.
Are my children’s friendships drama-less? Nope. However, both at school and at home, they are reminded to imitate Jesus. Together, they and their friends figure it out with Jesus and Mother Mary nudging them along.
Our school community is like family. I am as proud of my kids as their friends when they make the honor roll or carry the cross at mass. We all know each other, waving each other down at soccer games and after church on Sundays. Our school feels like home to us.
This week is Catholic Schools week. I am sharing my excitement with Catholic education not to put other forms of schooling down. Please prayerfully discern if a Catholic education is right for your family. Join me in praying that all children know how much God loves them.
Oh, and that little girl in the plaid jumper starting kindergarten all those years ago? She is almost sixteen now, excelling in Catholic high school. Her journey to independence continues, and I am thankful God has been present at school with her the entire time!
If you are passionate or curious about Catholic education, please head over to The Catholic Review. Other bloggers are linking up to share their experiences to celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2015. Thank you, Rita, for letting me join your link up!