Being baptized as a Catholic, I quite naturally went to Catholic school beginning with kindergarten and ending after I graduated from the eighth grade. I absolutely adored my elementary school. We had a really small student body, resulting in split grades – two grades per classroom/teacher. Only nine kids, including me, were in my eighth grade class. Trust me, transitioning from a class with fewer than ten students to a public high school with nearly 1000 teenagers was a serious culture shock, but that’s another story.
I was able to do some pretty cool stuff while at Sacred Heart, my school. For example, I was among the first girls to ever be allowed to serve at mass as an acolyte. I remember being in fourth or fifth grade when Pope John Paul II granted permission for girls to serve alongside boys, who were traditionally the only servers. I remember getting to school early to meet my best girlfriend and we’d race the boys to church to be able to serve over them.
We went to mass every day of the school week, save for Wednesdays, unless it was Ash Wednesday, of course, and serving made services more exciting. I always loved being with the priest as he gave mass and all of the traditions that go along with mass, especially benediction, my favorite aspect of mass. I recall that we had benediction services on one Friday of the month, if I’m recalling correctly.
Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of attending a private, Catholic school was the fact that we got out of school on holy days, while our public school counterparts did not. This meant we were always out of school the day after Halloween, as November 1 is a holy day, making for an easy time to stay up late and gorge on candy we’d collected.
I experienced every sacrament except for my baptism and marriage at Sacred Heart. I was baptized at a church in West Virginia, as I lived there with my parents and brother as a baby. I married in my mother’s childhood church, Cumberland Presbyterian. I participated in confession for the first time, my first communion in the second grade, and confirmation in seventh at that school/church.
I’ve always thought it neat to be Catholic – not that I’m dissing the protestant churches – but I love the pace of the Catholic mass and I’m proud to be a part of the religion. My mother’s family was traditionally Presbyterian, so I gained experience at their church services as well.
My sons will be baptized Catholic at the end of April and I’m very excited for them to follow in my family’s proverbial religious footsteps. Admittedly, I haven’t been to church in a while, probably not since my grandmother’s funeral, which doesn’t totally count, in my opinion. Since I want my boys to have a strong spiritual foundation, we are going to return to church and become active members. Thankfully, there is a Saturday evening mass, which is much more laid back than the Sunday services.
I also feel an attachment to Sacred Heart because at least three generations of my dad’s family, including him, attended the school. All of our graduating class pictures hang in the main hallway of the school to this day. My schoolmates and I would line up for lunch next to those pictures and we always liked to locate and point out our predecessors.
So, I sort of have a legacy at Sacred Heart, one that I want to continue. I toyed with the idea of sending my kids to public school and not even fooling with the rites of passage expected of a Catholic child. However, I decided to stand firm with my choice to enroll my children at Sacred Heart and raise them as Catholics, as I know I’d regret not having done so.
To reiterate, I am a proud Catholic, a member of a family that helped build the first Catholic church in my county. I come from a long line of German Catholics and I’m very interested to learn more about my family history. I really wish ancestry.com was totally free!