Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story. Jesus did it. He called his stories parables.
- Author Janet Litherland
"How is a Catholic school division different from other school divisions?" It's a question that comes up more and more often but it's not always easy to answer.
To help us explain our distinctiveness, we have collected stories and anecdotes from our staff members about meaningful moments, conversations and events they have experienced over the years, and which for them illustrate the Catholic identity of our school division.
These stories breathe life into our vision and mission statements and we hope they help show you who we are. We will post new stories as we receive them, so please visit this page again.
I love sharing my faith . . .
As a teacher in the Catholic system, I love starting my day with our whole school joining in prayer. I love being able to talk and teach about Jesus and His mission. The students are absolutely fascinated to hear about my faith. I love sharing my faith and not having to pretend that God isn't an important part of my life. I can make a difference not only in a child's education, but also in their spiritual life.
He hears our prayers . . .
Mary, a darling young girl, came running in to school after lunch. She was sobbing, nearly hysterically. "What is wrong?" I asked as I knelt down. In a halting, strained voice, she told me her story. It had been a special day yesterday and her poor, overworked mother had taken her shopping. She had bought Mary a new toy: a collection of tiny plastic animals, each no larger than a small eraser, all carried in a zoo-themed little bag. During recess Mary inexplicably took her backpack outside, with the new toy attached. Sometime while she was outside, the zipper on the zoo bag came open and the three tiny animals were dropped somewhere on the playground full of sand and hundreds of kids. I did not know how to comfort Mary as I pondered where her tiny toys could be. I tried to quickly think how I could help make Mary feel better and cope with her loss.
"Let's ask God for help," I suggested. Mary nodded and bowed her head as we both folded our hands together. "Dear God. Please help Mary," I began and paused.
"Help me find my new toys," Mary chimed in.
"If if be Your will," I added, "and please help Mary to feel better."
Mary almost had a small smile on her face as she skipped off to class.
Shortly after the afternoon recess, I spotted Mary in the hallway. She gave me a radiant smile and an enthusiastic hug. "Just now when I went outside for recess, I found my new toys laying there like God had set them out for me."
I was amazed. What were the odds of finding something so tiny in such a vast area? I told Mary that we should say thanks to God so we again folded our hands and bowed our heads. Mary started, "Thanks, God." So simple and yet eloquent where little is needed to be said. I affirmed, "Yea, God" and she concurred with "Yea, God!" It warmed my heart to see her twirl away. This small episode had taught me to understand the power of our amazing God who hears our prayers and answers our smallest requests.
This experience reaffirms to me the reason why I so value and treasure teaching in a Catholic school where I can turn to God with little questions as well as really tough problems. Even if we don't always get the answer that we ask for, we will always know that he is there for us!
Our God is a God of compassion and love . . .
The theme of a particular high school student retreat was relationships, including one's relationship with God. A number of students were under the impression that in order to have a relationship with God they had to be steady and perfect. They feared that if they weren't, God would judge them and not want to have a relationship with them or that they would not be worthy of that relationship. They had difficulty understanding that God wants to be in relationship with them even if they are having doubts about their faith or if God is not an ongoing priority for them.
In order to help them understand this notion I shared Father David Tumback's heart monitor analogy. A healthy life is represented on a heart monitor by a series of ups and downs. The last thing we want to see is a straight line as this means physical death. The same holds true in our spiritual lives. If we were connected to a monitor we would also want to see those same ups and downs as they would represent a healthy spiritual life. We really shouldn't strive for a perfectly steady spiritual life with no ups and downs, since this would represent spiritual death. Our God is a God of compassion and love, and He wants to be with us at all times, even when we are having doubts about our faith. This analogy made a lot of sense to the students and many left with a different opinion about what God expects in our relationship with Him.
Do you have a story to tell?
Are you a parent, student or staff member in our division with a story to share? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading "Catholic Education Story." We would love to hear from you.