My journey with Catholic education started in St. Catharines, Ontario, at a job fair that was being held by Brock University. Gary Chiste was standing at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools’ booth with a pack of Smarties and a contagious smile on his face. “Come for an interview!” he exclaimed. I had never thought about moving to Alberta. My plan in life was to work for the school board I had grown up in. I’d move back to my hometown, teach at my local Catholic high school and likely live with my mom to help around the house. But Christ the Redeemer had Smarties… and I couldn’t resist the Smarties.
I have grown up in Catholic schools all my life because I was blessed with parents who believed in the value of Catholic education. But after spending time with students in the classroom, something was definitely different about the Catholic culture at Christ the King Academy. Each interaction with students was done through a love of Christ and with authenticity. Conversations became more meaningful because of the vulnerability that students and staff experienced. It was evident my colleagues were called to be educators and that they were living out their vocations by having real and genuine interactions that were mastered through the teachings of the Gospel. Even through challenging moments, when students had to be disciplined, they were met with grace and with the understanding that they, too, were a child of God.
What I love most about Catholic education is how we pray before a hard quiz or exam; how we can stop what we are doing to teach a lesson from the Bible, how we discipline with the teachings of Jesus.
What I love most about Catholic education is how we can have prayer services for fish that have died in our classrooms, the love that our students have for one another, despite their differences because they share the same faith.
What I love most about Catholic education is the moments that go unexplained because of the Holy Spirit at work: when a student who is struggling the most “gets it” or when a student who has no connections to friends in the class suddenly gets invited to play at recess.
I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had with students and conversations I have had with staff members. I’m thankful for the moments that have challenged me both personally and professionally. I look forward to what the Holy Spirit has in store for me and my students.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers