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Catholic high schools teach about faith, how to live Gospel

In Catholic schools the first bell generally rings to call students to class, unless it’s Gibault Catholic high school in Waterloo where students don’t answer to bells. They just know it’s time to move to the next class.

Going to a Catholic high school for some young people in the Diocese of Belleville demands great sacrifice on the part of parents who must pay tuition, and on the part of the student who may have to travel a greater distance to go to a Catholic high school.

Many families have made their decisions, tightened their belts, and are entrusting their children to a Catholic high school.

All parents know that everything changes when a youngster goes to high school. While they don’t look much different than they did last month, a high school freshman has embarked on what will probably be a four-year journey of discovery — not only enhancing skills and expanding knowledge of complex subjects but also expanding their knowledge of their faith.

A number of adults stopped their faith formation classes after eighth grade, but a Catholic high school can stretch

young minds and offer opportunities to put gospel values into practice.

Several students from Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese responded to a question from The Messenger asking about the “value” of a Catholic high school education. Here’s what they had to say:

• The most important thing about having a Catholic education, is it keeps you involved with the community and the church itself. It brings you closer to God, and it allows you to be with him every day. Finally, it  gives me more time to spend with my family, and I believe it brings me closer to them week in and week out.

Cordell Beckmann at Mater Dei High School

• This is Keely Voss from Mater Dei Catholic High School, I am a junior here.

I value my Catholic education because I love to be surrounded by people that love God too. I also love to be able to talk about my faith openly to my friends and teachers at my school.

•Going to a Catholic high school has affected our lives in many ways. Going to Mater Dei has given us the ability to learn about our loving Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. It has given us a glimpse into the wondrous gift of eternal life. We have learned about the different ways God has sacrificed not only himself but his own son for our salvation. Our Catholic education has given us the courage to spread the Good News of salvation to the world.

PS. The e-edition of the Messenger allows us to get great quality news that is rooted in Catholic faith whenever we need information about current events.

Emma Dumstorff & Sarah Maller

Juniors at Mater Dei Catholic High School

• I get to learn about God every day, and I get to learn to be a better Christian and follower of Jesus. I read the e-edition of the Messenger and I thought it was great! Having an e-edition of the Messenger is awesome because instead of reading from a newspaper I can just pull it up on my device, just like that.

Alyssa Ripperda, junior

Mater Dei Catholic High School

Those were the responses we received, and Judy Kampwerth, their theology teacher, said she did not screen them before they were sent.

Young people today seem more mature than those who spent their four years in these same schools a few decades ago, and perhaps they are.

They also sometimes seem more knowledgeable in expressing their thoughts, their ideas and their faith than those of bygone eras.

No description fits every school or every student, but because young people have so much access to social media and news in general, they are more aware of the poverty in their local communities, throughout the diocese and the world.

And they are not slow or shy about responding. They raise funds for a wide variety of causes, and they respond to people in need.

Students at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese have school conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Althoff students prepare meals and go out on the St. Vincent de Paul bus regularly, meeting the poor and the hungry and ministering to them.

Many Catholic high schools release their seniors for three weeks during the second semester to work in communities, reaching out to those in need with direct service to them.

Some even leave the area to go to other countries where their schools are connected to serve. While this is not easy to manage, with help from their schools and their families, they find ways not only to change the lives of those they serve but also to change their own lives as well.

It is a testament to the Catholic schools’ commitment to their values and their missions to educate their students in more than classroom subjects.

They are learning life lessons that will help to guide them as they mature and continue their life journeys.

On Catholic education, Pope Francis said in 2014: “Effectively, Catholic schools and universities are attended by many students who are not Christian or do not believe. Catholic educational institutions offer to all an approach to education that has as its aim the full development of the person, which responds to the right of every person to access to knowledge.” (Cardinalnewmansociety.org)

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