In the quiet corners of reflection, I find myself overcome with a deep sense of awe and wonder as I ponder on the incredible journey that has led me to where I find myself today – a Catholic high school teacher. The path has been so much more than simply a career choice; it has been a profound testament to the transformative power of God’s handiwork in my life. There have been moments of doubt and discovery, but mostly I look back and see a hopeful tapestry that God has woven through the chapters of my life.
A Foundation of Faith
My story of becoming a Catholic school teacher begins with the foundations laid in the fertile soil of my mother’s faith. From the earliest days of my childhood, I recall the sweet fragrance of incense at Midnight Mass on Christmas, and the gentle rhythm of the Rosary that we would pray together in the Madonna Room after lighting a candle to lift our intentions up to the Lord. This sacred atmosphere became the backdrop of my upbringing as a Catholic. Proverbs 22:6 beautifully encapsulates this part of my faith journey: “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”
As adolescence beckoned, I became quite interested in the faith and had a wondrous desire to become more and more active in the parish. I became a member of the parish teen group, which led me to lector for the first time as a teenager, and volunteer at a number of parish fundraiser events. Often on Friday nights I would be at the parish, and I loved every minute of my time there alongside other youths who shared a love for our Catholic faith.
Navigating through the Storm
During my college years there were challenges that arose seriously testing my faith. On a daily basis I was questioned and mocked by fellow classmates for the beliefs that had been ingrained in my heart. The tempests of uncertainty and distractions threatened to erode what felt so dear to me. In these moments of hardship, I found great comfort in the Gospel of Mark “He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still! The wind ceased and there was great calm.” (4:39) Just as Jesus had calmed the storm, I held firm onto the truth that God’s peace could silence the turbulence within me.
College was also a time that marked a significant turning point when I felt a profound calling to delve deeper into a relationship with God. I saw the way my Orthodox Jewish friends had such an incredible connection to God and outwardly practiced their faith without fear. The words of St. Augustine echoing the sentiment, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,” resonated with the yearning within me for a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Answering the Call: Becoming a Catholic High School Teacher
When I look back at the chapters of my life and how they unfolded, I can clearly see a vocation call emerged – the call to become not just a high school teacher, but a Catholic high school teacher. When I taught at a public school for several years there was something missing, and it took a great amount of time for me to come to the realization that I was meant to teach the faith to the youth. There was the gradual unfolding, a response to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, not a sudden revelation. The words of Jeremiah 1:5 echoed within my heart, and became my guiding light: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you.” It was this scripture verse that became my invitation to participate in God’s plan for my life, to evangelize our young people within the context of a Catholic education.
Entering the realm of education in the Catholic setting, especially as a theology teacher, has presented the unique challenge of maintaining a deep commitment to nurturing the spiritual and moral growth of students. But each day that I have stood before my classes I am reminded of The Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Our Catholic Faith Comes Alive in the Classroom
The more I have taught in a Catholic high school, I have witnessed the gradual transformation of the classroom into a sacred space where the light of truth has become illuminated on the path of my students to a deeper relationship with God. It has not been simply learning about facts and figures in English or math class, but about guiding students towards the liberating truth that can be found only in Christ, and Christ alone. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Our Catholic faith, which consists of such rich treasures, has infused each and every aspect of my teaching. From the opening prayer at the beginning of each class to discussions on salvation history and faith and reason, the classroom has become an extension of the Church’s mission to form disciples. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has always been my guide every step of the way in helping to teach the truth.
The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, have always been front and center in the spiritual life of the Catholic school community. The focal point of the start of each school day is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which nourishes not only the souls of the students, but also unites us together as the lay faithful along with our dedicated priests who bring us the gift of Holy Communion each day.
A Lesson from the Saints
The Saints have become invaluable companions on my faith journey. St. Teresa of Calcutta’s words, “Do small things with great love,” has resonated in the everyday interactions with my students. The simplicity of her message echoes the profound truth that even the seemingly insignificant moments in the classroom could be infused with the transformative power of love.
St. John Bosco, the patron saint of educators, inspired me to approach teaching not merely as a profession but as a vocation. His emphasis on forming the youth as “good Christians and honest citizens” has become a compass, guiding my efforts to intertwine faith and education.
A Tapestry of Gratitude and Anticipation
The journey from a seeker to a Catholic high school teacher is a tapestry woven with threads of gratitude and anticipation. I am thankful for the foundational faith instilled in me, for the challenges that deepened my trust in God’s providence, and for the opportunity to witness the faith come alive within the classroom walls.
As I continue on this vocational path, I look ahead with joy and excitement. The tapestry of God’s work in my life is still unfolding, and I am humbled by the prospect of being an instrument in His hands. Philippians 1:6 comes to mind: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” As I navigate the exciting chapters yet to unfold, I rest in the assurance that God’s work continues, and His grace is more than sufficient for the journey ahead.