Two summers ago, Jodi and I and our youngest daughter Lily arrived at a New Family Social at St. Michael Catholic School (StMCS) to learn the ropes at a new school. We’ve been members of this parish for nearly 20 years now, and I’ve been on staff in two different roles—but when our oldest son, Brendan, was heading to kindergarten, we never made it off the waiting list for StMCS. We wound up enrolling him at Albertville Primary, and we never looked back.
We are blessed with great schools in this community, including some of the most faith-friendly public schools around. But when COVID derailed our older daughter Emma’s senior year and graduation, cancelled our youngest son Trevor’s theater performance of The Three Musketeers, and confined Lily to interacting with her classmates through a Kindle screen, we began to rethink our approach to educating our children. Two things seemed clear to us at the time:
- Once the state gets involved in the day-to-day operations of public schools, it seems unlikely that they will pull back very much.
- The best chance for Trevor and Lily to have a somewhat normal school experience during the 2020-21 school year would be in a Catholic school.
When we met our StMCS mentor family, the Wachters, they laughed to think we needed orientation—but in truth, we didn’t know what to expect. Lily was open to uniforms and making new friends, but still nervous about starting a new routine in a new place. We registered Trevor at Holy Spirit Academy, and he went from hundreds of classmates to less than a dozen, plus a dress code that required regular haircuts and ties. And Jodi and I found ourselves immersed in volunteer opportunities and fundraisers.
What did our family get in return? Regular prayer, school Masses, and Confessions. An education incorporating the Catholic faith across the subjects. Faithful teachers, small class sizes, personal attention, and friends and families who share the same goals and values as we do. Not to mention in-person classes for the entire year, last year and (so far) this year, and no serious outbreaks of COVID or any other illness.
Lily has reconnected with friends from the parish, made countless new friends, plus joined the LEGO robotics team this year. She says she enjoys learning about her faith and the saints at school, and she loves her teachers, Mrs. Gallus, and Miss Ginther. Trevor is learning Latin and oil painting, has performed with the Choir and Theater Club, and has taken up fencing. Both are thriving.
Catholic education has been a huge blessing and source of solidity for our family during these turbulent last two years. During this Catholic Schools Week, January 30-February 6, please pray for our Catholic schools, students, and staff. Whether you have children in these schools or not, they are among the most important ministries of our parishes and diocese—and they deserve our support!
This post appeared in the Sunday, January 30, issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin.