Since August, I have started work at a Catholic School. I am, currently, a substitute teacher and an extended care assistant. My job at the school and my involvement in children’s lives are a very enlightening experience. In many ways, I expected Catholic School to be different from my own experience of growing up in public school. In a certain way, I was right, but some of the ways it is different are not a good thing.
The school system is fine. What is different is the environment the kids grow up in. I expected prim and proper families as a private school is not cheap. However, a lot of the parents I meet are single moms. One of the sweetest kids I have met so far, his father is in jail. It seems that there isn’t much of a stable nuclear family anymore. Kids have to remember which parent they have to go home with for the weekend. A group of sisters that I interact with a lot has five other step-siblings who are also from divorced parents. That is eight children that one has to keep track of who goes where. Going into this job, considering it is a private school, much of what I hear about the condition of the family unit is surprising.
As a millennial with constant articles and elders complaining about my generation, I can’t imagine what they will say about these elementary kids. The only people we can blame for how these children turn out is ourselves. In public school, it seemed like everyone I knew still had a stable family unit and their parents were not divorced. It was the same in college. Thus, it was very surprising to me see that most kids, I get to interact with at least, do have a “broken” family. In addition, we, millennials, are complained about like it is a new accessory to wear to make you look sophisticated. Therefore, if these kids have more family trouble than us “entitled millennials” then I do not know what the older generation will cook up about these kids. As a facility member of the school, I have come to realize that the school offers some children an assured stability. No matter who they go home with, and which bedroom they sleep in, the school will always be a constant place for them to go when home is traveling between two locations.
God has shown me that despite the conditions these kids live with they are beautifully resilient. There is a giant light for them in their life through the school and the Catholic faith. Today, the group of sisters I previously mentioned were re-enacting mass. A dictionary was used as a pretend Bible for the readings and prayer book. During their fun, they were trying to teach me how to be an altar server as they had gone through training to be altar servers. It was a very sweet moment for me to witness, granted the eldest and the youngest started fighting over who would be the priest. Eventually, the middle sister joined in too over the quarrel of the priesthood. I made sure to remind them in real life only men can be priests, but there is a study going on to see if the Church can ordain deaconesses. As a Protestant, I have never seen kids playing a church service for fun. The kids enjoy Mass and the traditions that come with it. Today, this little moment showed me that even though life is confusing for the kids, there is a light in the darkness for them.
God’s love for these young children is truly boundless. Even with all the sin in the world, He somehow reaches the hearts of these kids in such a unique way. And He uses the Catholic faith to light up these little hearts for Him. I hope He continues to show me what the fullness of truth and tradition can efficiently accomplish.