Why Catholic Schools?

To preface this blog post, I suggest you read this wonderful TIME article on Mother Teresa.

There’s a common saying among Catholic educators, “Teaching at a Catholic school is not a career, it’s a vocation.” This saying cannot be more true. The pay scale of any Catholic school versus public is so different, one must wonder how Catholic school teachers are able to live. Currently, the difference in pay between Catholic high schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago and high schools of Chicago Public Schools is at least $12,000, depending on the subject. Are Catholic school teachers insane?

Over the last 10 years, there has been a current trend that new teachers start in Catholic schools to build up experience and then move on after 5 or so years. But that does not account those who have been in the Catholic school system for over 10 years. Additionally, there are teachers who switched from public to private schools. Why is that? This is where the saying come back into play, “Teaching at a Catholic school is not a career, it’s a vocation.”

Teachers who care for their students from the first day of freshmen year to even post college, are able to have a more intimate learning environment in Catholic schools. Teachers who truly want to teacher for a living and not to live on teaching are best reflected in Catholic schools; whether it’s high schools or grammar schools. Now not to say that there are not teachers like this public schools, but to be honest, those a few and far between. To teach is to serve, to serve is to love, to love is to be one like Christ. Catholic school teachers teach, serve, and love in God’s mission.

It’s only been 5 weeks since I started at new school. I’m working 4x more than I did at Quigley, getting paid only slightly more but for the amount of work I do, I’m nowhere near where I should be getting. I can’t sleep at night, I think about work always, the commute is awful and the technical conditions is a nightmare. And yet, here I am content.

Looking back at my time at Quigley, which was my dream job, I never realized how much fun teaching at my alma mater would be. However, what really caught me was the extent that I enjoyed working there. I found the perfect balance of working IT and working in a Catholic school. True, I was living off each paycheck, but I didn’t care. I was there because I wanted to be. I was there for the kids, for the faculty, for mission of Catholic schools and Catholic education.

Here I am now, continuing the mission of Catholic education. I was weary in the beginning, because I was wondering if the reason why I wanted to stay in Catholic schools was because of my experience at Quigley. However, I think of all the Quigley students, especially those there last year, I realize how much I am called to be an educator; someone to teach them, lead and guide them, and help them become the true followers of Christ.

Look at Mother Teresa, who followed Christ to Calcutta, India. Yet, she felt abandoned and left in the darkness. I felt that way often last year after the announcement of Quigley’s closing. Why had God brought me to a place where I had called home for 4 years and now calling it home once again, only to take it away and destroy it’s mission? Why has God forsaken the Quigley students, parents, faculty, and alumni? Why has He forsaken me?

The darkness is something too familiar to me during my early collegiate career. However, after the tearful day of Sept. 19, 2006, I wondered if the darkness was only going to return. And yet, there were 3 kids sitting at the footsteps of my office; the three amigos I called them, Danny, Joey, and Billy. Before I had a chance to even grieve, I realized that my role then and there was to teach, serve, and love these guys and all the Quigley boys.

Before these three boys showed up at my doorstep, I will always remember the first, Nick Guerrero. He was there lifting weights with Marty & I after school the day before. Marty pulled me aside and warned me about the forthcoming announcement the next day. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock, angry, and wanted to vent. But going back into the weight room, I saw Nick there and I realize my pain and grief would only be a fraction to those whose eyes are still young and pure. I’ve gotten to known Nick for only 2 weeks; and yet, I saw him as a young man growing into something great. Except, I will never get to fully see that growth. All I could do now is to prepare him for his future the best I could of the time that’s left.

So when I decided to continue with Catholic schools, I could not help but think of all the Quigley students everywhere. Will they be okay? How will their teachers be? How will the next school be like? It won’t be the same for sure, but I pray that they will be able to adjust and come to love their new school as they did for Quigley. I wanted all of them to be well, but I know that I can’t be in all places. So here I am now with 4 Quigley boys, keeping my eye on them and watch the Phoenix continue to grow in them at their new school.

So the dark days of Quigley are over. The nightmare of my new school is still strong and brewing. And yet, like Mother Teresa, who doubted God’s existence for many years, I come to take my doubt and continue to teach, serve, and love, knowing that all will be done for the Greater Glory of God.

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