Lights for Christ

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I hadn”t thought much about Catholic education as a young adult. I attended a public school for K-12 and then chose my small, liberal arts college (which happened to be Catholic) not because it was Catholic, but because they gave me an excellent academic scholarship.

Then I fell head over heels in love with God and His Church while attending said Catholic college. So in love, I decided to show that love by becoming a Catholic school teacher on the south side of Chicago. When I tell you I”ve seen it all, I have seen it all.

I know that Catholic education across all levels has its fair share of problems. Some which seem so insurmountable as to be totally crippling. Where I taught in Chicago it was Catholic schools where the “Catholic” part was all but forgotten, the school merely being a safer alternative to the dangerous (and I do mean dangerous) public schools on Chicago”s south side. 95% of students being non-Catholic, the “religion class” becomes nothing more than coloring sheets about how Jesus loves the little children, lest we offend any non-Catholic families…who had willingly chosen to have their child attend a Catholic school.

Though I attended Mount St. Mary”s University, a very faithful Catholic college for my undergraduate education, it contrasted drastically with Loyola University Chicago where I completed my MA in Social Justice. Though both universities call themselves Catholic, they could not be farther apart in atmosphere, location, student life, and theology. Imagine my surprise when, having gone from The Mount one week to Loyola the next, I attended daily Mass to find a church with no kneelers, and a woman reading the Gospel and giving the homily. Just one small example.

No, I am most assuredly not a pollyanna when it comes to the state of Catholic education in the US. I have seen some truly heartbreaking, probably heretical, and deeply disturbing things said and done by institutions claiming to be Catholic.

It”s very easy to focus on what”s bad, because some of it is so best online casino very bad. It”s harder to turn our attention to what is good, true, and beautiful about Catholic education in our country. It”s very Providential that I stumbled upon a gem of a school in my own backyard. Or rather, I should say, my parish”s backyard.

The school, Lumen Christi Catholic School, has just celebrated it”s ten year anniversary operating as an independent Catholic school. It is K-12 and uses a clasically based cirriculum. The fact that it is independent means that is can operate as it sees fit, without being tied to a parish or the Archdiocese for finanical support. This also means that the school can use the cirriculum materials it wishes.

It is a small school, with most of the families choosing Lumen Christi because of it”s faithfulness to the teachings of the Church and the primacy of the Sacraments for the kids formation. All students attend Mass daily, and begin learning latin in first grade. The teachers all profess loyalty to the Magisterium. The children are delightful to be around. I know this because many, if not most, of the families attend our parish, though it is not a parish school.

This short video was made as part of the 10th anniversary celebration this year. All of the images seen in church are of our lovely parish church, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

There are some amazing things happening at Lumen Christi, and I”m sure in other places too. What good news have you heard lately coming out of Catholic education?

Sarah Babbs

Sarah Babbs

Sarah Babbs is a married mother of a toddler girl, writing from Indiana where she moved for love after growing up on the east coast. Sarah and her husband, a lawyer, lead marriage prep classes for their parish in addition to daydreaming about becoming lunatic farmers. During stolen moments when the toddler sleeps and the laundry multiplies itself, Sarah writes about motherhood, Catholic social thought, and ponders the meaning of being a woman "made in the image of God". Her website is Fumbling Toward Grace.

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6 Responses

  1. Sarah: this is a wonderful article and reminds me of Catholic school back in the mid 50’s and even into the 60’s. Mass once a week, even those who were enrolled but of another faithy, many courses taught by Sisters, priest or Monastic Brothers. this is truly a Catholic school, not a secularized catholic school that are bending to the secular world so as not to offend others. I pray this school will become a model for other schools that want to be Catholic and that it has a long life in educating the children of today and tomorrow.

  2. We have a wonderful parish school. If our parish school did not adhere and teach according to the teachings of the church, the Catholic faith, our kids would simply be in public school and we’d do our best to teach them at home and by our example. Our school has weekly Mass, weekly Adoration, lots of prayer throughout the day, Catholic teachers who profess to be faithful to the magesterium. Even in our diocese, parents must sign something about that, as well (that just started recently).

    I wonder what the tuition is and what kind of financial assistance they provide at the school you talk about, Sarah? One thing I find sad and irritating about Catholic education in America is the Tuition they charge. A family who follows the teachings of the church and is generous in their marriage with the gift of life, most likely will not be able to afford to send their children to Catholic school. We are blessed in our diocese with parochial schools (parish supported) and therefore, the decision to use our parish school was made without worrying about whether we’d be able to support our parish and put our children in the school (3 of our 5 are school age).
    But I often wonder when that (truly parochial schools) will end.

    One of my sisters lives in a diocese where she must pay tuition and it is stressful every year as she awaits the verdict of how much financial assistance she can get to keep her children in. She only has 2 so far, but at some point will have all 5 of her children in the school at once and I don’t think the big breaks hit until she has 3 or more. Her tithe takes the hit and she is unable to give what she would desire to her parish because she must pay for the tuition so that her children can receive a Catholic education.

    Now some might say, “If you really want it, you will make it happen.” I, myself, said that long ago. But the sad thing is, Catholic schools, in general, have become the less expensive Private schools and most families of many children will find it a much better alternative to homeschool or use the public school rather than deal with all the baggage that comes along with a Catholic education (chance that their kids don’t learn the faith, fundraising, high cost, etc.)

  3. That sounds like a wonderful Catholic school. Alas, we don’t have any such school here, despite lots of Catholic schools. And even if we did, we couldn’t afford it. And even if we could afford it I would still homeschool because no matter how good a school is, the teachers are, and the curriculum is, a teacher still cannot give each student the time, attention and one-on-one that a parent can. Nor can the teacher tailor the curriculum to exactly each student’s academic needs, strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the teacher cannot control everything the other kids say to each other and do to each other, especially when they are not within earshot, like at recess. In order to protect my kids’ innocence at least until eighth grade, I homeschool.

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