By Anne Marie Amacher
“Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” is the theme for this year’s Catholic Schools Week. The week began Jan. 26 and concludes Feb. 1.
Lee Morrison, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Davenport, says Catholic schools “encompass concepts that are at the heart of Catholic education as we prepare children to use their God-given gifts to the fullest later in life.”
Keeping that observation in mind, The Catholic Messenger asked some Catholic high school students in the diocese to share their thoughts to this question: “How has Catholic school shaped you as a young Catholic?”
Zach Taylor, a senior at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Fort Madison, said, “It has taught me the values of the Catholic Church and to live those values on a day-to-day basis. It has also let me develop an independent character, while being surrounded by good morals and advice.”
Quin Schnier, a junior at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, said, “Religion class has helped me explore my faith. The more I know about my religion, the deeper my faith becomes.”
Claire Dupuis, a senior at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Burlington, said attending a Catholic school has shaped her in many ways. “The first way is spiritually. Going to a Catholic school means you are surrounded by mostly people of the same faith. This has strengthened my faith, but has also tested my faith. The Catholic schools welcome non-Catholic members, so often I find myself defending or explaining the Catholic faith. In the long run this has given me a stronger belief and trust in my faith. Another way my school has shaped me as a young Catholic is giving me an opportunity to learn about my faith.
Religion class, for me, is a time to expand my knowledge of my faith, as well as to ask questions about it. Senior religion class is often filled with open debates, questioning different beliefs, and explaining the details of the Catholic faith. Overall, attending a Catholic school has positively influenced my life which has shaped me into the person I am today.”
Beth Mallon, a senior at Assumption High School in Davenport, said, “The Catholic school system has shaped me into the person I am today. I began attending Catholic school in first grade, and am now finishing up my final year at Assumption High School. Everything I have experienced while attending a Catholic school has helped me grow closer to God and strengthen my faith. I have been given countless opportunities ranging anywhere from daily prayer to class retreats. I do not know where I would be today if I had not had the privilege of attending a Catholic school.
“Going to a Catholic school has provided me with an environment where I can comfortably discuss my ideas and beliefs pertaining to the Catholic Church. Each morning, and before lunch, I am able to participate in prayer with my classmates. I have also always had the opportunity to participate in reconciliation with my school twice a year.
“In grade school I had the privilege of attending Mass at least once a week. Now, in high school, I continue to have the opportunity to celebrate Mass with my classmates at least once each month.
“Attending a Catholic school has also given me the chance to celebrate my faith with thousands of other students from Catholic schools during Catholic Schools Week! All of these opportunities have taught me that my faith is something to be proud of, not something to hide.
“One aspect of Catholic school that has helped me to understand and become more involved in my religion is the opportunity to have a religion class. At Assumption High School, every student is required to complete 10 service hours each semester. Completing these service hours has helped me to become more involved in my school, community and parish. Along with service hours, religion classes also require a class retreat each year. The messages sent out to students at these retreats are very powerful. Without the knowledge I have obtained and opportunities I have been given from my religion classes, I would not understand the Catholic faith as much as I do today.”