The value of Catholic education in Parsons
To The Sun:
Over nine years ago when my husband and I were relocating our family from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex we chose to move to Parsons for two reasons. One was to be closer to family. The other was because Parsons has a Catholic school in the Wichita diocese. The importance of being in the Wichita diocese is that active, tithing parishioners do not have to pay tuition for their children to attend the Catholic school. The parish supports the school for the glory of our Lord and for the benefit of the community. Just like taxpayers support public schools for the greater good of the community. We had some definite reasons for wanting our children to attend St. Patrick’s. My husband graduated from Catholic school, which he appreciated as an adult and I saw in him a love for learning that I attribute to his Catholic education. Plus, we wanted to form a Catholic community around our family. With an appreciation of other faiths, we also realize that Catholic parents are called to raise their children in a Catholic way. With all that being said, we had no idea the actual lifetime benefits that we would gain from this little school. We did form strong friendships with other Catholic families that ended up being a huge comfort and support when my husband died suddenly four years after moving here and just months after our fifth child was born.
We wanted our children to be immersed in their faith and we felt the best place for that to happen would be a Catholic school. I think that happens at St. Patrick’s. It is not a perfect place, because it is full of imperfect people and sometimes I even think it is under greater attack because the devil just can’t stand the beautiful things that happen there.
Over the years I have learned that in most classrooms there is a list compiled by the students. This list consists of friends and family, living and deceased, and other concerns for which the students pray for together daily. Some people in the wider community might be prayed for at St. Patrick’s and never know it. Prayer is a daily part of the students’ experience. Each morning they pray a decade of the rosary for a greater respect for life at all stages. They also pray before and after meals and at the end of each day. At least twice a week the students participate in Mass. I love this part of the school, because it is one part of my students’ school day that I get to spend with them. Together we pray, hear the word of God and receive our Lord in holy communion. In Mass the students and other Mass participants pray for things like our country, freedom of religion, an end to abortion and many other intentions concerning the wider community. The students have weekly adoration of our Lord in the blessed sacrament. This gives them the opportunity to spend quiet time with the Lord to pray, listen and think. For this I am grateful because I often wonder how our children will know what God wants for them considering they have so little quiet time in their lives to hear Him. The students get to learn about God in daily religion class, which covers learning the Bible and the catechism. Each year they also learn about saints and the seventh and eighth grades are saints in a wax museum one day each November.
Other faith traditions the students experience at least once a year are participating in a living rosary, the decorating and lighting of the Jesse/Christmas tree and send off blessing by father for the Christmas break, Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent and the May crowning of Mary.
What about the academics? When looking at standardized test scores, St. Patrick’s does very well. Not only do our scores have to meet the state requirements, but also the diocesan requirements, which are even more demanding. Plus, the diocese requires our students to be on a higher grading scale. I think students should learn more in school than how to pass or score well on tests. They should grow in intellect, experience a love for learning and be encouraged to find the talents God gave them. I have children from high school age down to kindergarten. What I have seen is my children develop academic confidence, independence and personal responsibility. It is amazing to watch them grow into self-motivated and independent students. My one child in high school appreciates the academic background, discipline and personal responsibility that she gained while at St. Patrick’s.
I am so thankful that the Lord led us to Parsons and St. Patrick’s many years ago. Having children at St. Patrick Catholic School has been an enriching experience for everyone in our family. — KRISTEN BRADBURY, Parsons