As I briefly mentioned, last Spring, we made the decision to enroll Mary at our local Catholic elementary school. Although our own parish does not operate a school, a neighboring parish willingly accepted her for admission. Economics...? Perhaps. But we also think that it was God's providence calling us to St. Paul's.
Eighteen years ago (this October) my husband and I were married at St. Paul's.
It's a "homecoming" in many ways.
Last weekend, Mary, Ben, Luke and I attended Mass at St. Paul's so that we might meet the new principal and pick up Mary and Ben's "Back to School" packet. Both kiddos were so excited.
I remember, while still teaching, my principal asking me what Catholic school (or any parochial/private school) does "so differently" from public school, as I, myself, am a Catholic school graduate.
I just couldn't articulate my answer.
It's not the academics. At least not where we live. We have outstanding public school systems surrounding our metro area.
It's not necessarily even the teachers. Although they are part of the equation. There are outstanding, loving, caring teachers in public schools.
I was one of them.
It's the feeling tone of the buildings that are so different. It's the love for Christ that permeates through all the day's activities...whether that be the respect show between students and teachers and students and students...artwork on the walls...lessons in the classroom...uniforms worn to show modesty and respect for ourselves and our neighbors...
It's the support and encouragement to have large families...and to include those families in activities throughout the school year...
It's attending weekly Mass...saying grace before meals...and starting and ending each day with prayer...
This is what makes Catholic schools different.
This weekend, we had our 2nd opportunity to interact with the St. Paul school family. Saturday night was the Ice Cream Social after 5 PM Mass. And while I forgot to snap a couple of pictures of the kids enjoying their root beer floats, I did manage to capture the smiles and fun that my two were having making new friends and playing on new playground equipment.
From the principal (who is new herself!), to Benjamin's preschool teacher, to random parents who came up to introduce themselves and welcome us to St. Paul's, we couldn't have felt more loved.
Thank you St. Paul's family for welcoming us to our new school home and for showing us the love of Christ in action.
P.S Mary will be one of only 16 or 17 in First Grade. There is only one section of Kindergarten through 5th grade...and 6th, 7th and 8th grades are combined. Wow. Sort of like a one-room school house!