Honestly, I haven’t always been the faith driven person that I am now. I started off my schooling at a Catholic Primary School and then at some point in year 3, I moved to a Public School. It was a MASSIVE change for me. I went from praying three times a day and having religious focused classes, to ‘Scripture’ once a week. I have to admit, as a child, it shifted something in me. I guess I thought everyone believed in God, but this shift changed my view of faith and my belief in Jesus. When I moved to the Public School I thought that I couldn’t believe in Jesus anymore and that my views and opinions would just be shut off entirely. So from sometime in year 3 to year 6, I hid all curiosity of faith in God.
I attended a Catholic High School. It was different. It got difficult. There were days where I really struggled to be and understand who I was. It was not fun. Thankfully, the good times outweigh the bad. Amidst the struggle to discover who I was, while battling the pressures of work and peers, there was a steady support network at the school. I made so many amazing friends. But, it was the reassurance that there was always a helping hand and an ear to listen, that got me through High School. I learned so many new and interesting things in my classes. Looking back now I recognise the school was not only aiming to get through content but to form me into the best person I can be.
I remember feeling odd about reciting scripted prayers and gathering for Mass when I was in year 7. But my curiosity about God was still there. In year 9, I joined the Ministry Class, it was eye-opening, but I think the pressures of ‘fitting-in’ stopped me from fully investing. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into Ministry Class in year 10, it felt like a punch in the face. But, there were so many other opportunities to tap into the spiritual life of the school. In year 11 my faith was the base of the mountain. I attended LEAD, Kairos, Shine, Ignite and started consistently going to Sunday Mass and youth group. There was something inside me keen to make an active commitment to the faith I learned about at school. Coming from a non-Catholic family, I had never received my sacraments. In 2017, the St Agnes’ Parish guided me and a group of my peers, through the ‘Journey into the Catholic Faith’. I was confirmed into the Catholic Church and received my first Holy Communion. I wouldn’t have been able to receive all of these AMAZING opportunities if I hadn’t gone to a Catholic High School. I wouldn’t have faith as my foundation and moral standard. I wouldn’t be in the wonderful position I am in now. Basically, long story short, Catholic Schools are so so wonderful!!!
I am so grateful for the array of opportunities to ask the questions of faith, life and God. This was the part that really helped me in the battle of knowing who I am. High School was rewarding and fruitful because it guided every part of who I am; intellectual growth, emotional support and spiritual formation. I can see the underlying foundation of Christian values in every element of the school. The staff and my peers helped me to be more invested in my faith and become a Daughter of Christ.
So, why celebrate Catholic Schools Week?
Based solely on my experience alone, Catholic Schools are something to be celebrated! Everyone is so welcoming and loving. They are unique, rich and guided by universal Christian values. I felt free to be me. Catholic Schools open the door of faith and invite students to enter at their own pace. Catholic Schools give you permission to strive for something greater than yourself, the ‘kingdom of heaven’. I want to celebrate the freedom Catholic Schools gave me to grow in the knowledge of God.
Sown in Rich Soil
There are students aged 12 – 18 who want to have faith and want to express that faith in a way where they do not feel judged. They want a safe haven for them to be close to God. I hope they have a similar experience to me. I came to a Catholic High School eager and questioning, the school laid a foundation for me to grow and encouraged me to bear fruit. And not just in Religion Class either. Just in general, the principal, Teachers, peers, YMOs, lunchtime groups, Conferences, retreats, class prayer, reflection days, leadership camps, and more! Especially as a teenager in the society that we live in today, it can be SO hard to express or even have a faith. That is why Catholic Schools are so important. The Catholic School established a pathway for me to grow closer to Christ, and in turn, knowing who I am.
A Reflection by Tiarne Rogers (YMO, Newman College, Port Macquarie)