Do you remember your school days? What sort of experiences do you remember from elementary and high school? I had the privilege of attending Catholic school from the late ’60s to 1980.
In the Catholic schools at the time, reading, writing, and arithmetic were stressed. I am glad to have been taught the basics, mostly by religious sisters. In elementary school, the nuns in our parish were members of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, based in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the sisters throughout the U.S. at this time were from Ireland and came to America to teach at Catholic schools throughout the country. Our sisters’ Motherhouse sent out nuns throughout Texas and Louisiana to various parishes and Dallas was lucky to have benefited from so many.
Some of the sisters had conventional names: Mona, Maura, Roseanne, Patricia, Christina, and Teresa. Some of the other sisters had unusual and interesting names: Lourdes, Barnabas, Marie Frederic, Cabrini, and Attracta. Of course, we called them Louie, Barney, Fred, Linguini, and Tractor. Under the tutelage of these women, we memorized, memorized, memorized! I can still recite “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, I can still quote the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, and I can still say the Our Father in Spanish.
The priests in grade school were Diocesan priests who did not have to take vows of poverty, unlike the nuns. Our monsignor was from a German family from Muenster, Texas, and flew his own airplane. I remember going to the Music Hall occasionally with my mother and we sometimes ran into Monsignor and a guest at the musicals, or we would spot him from the balcony sitting in the first few rows. Monsignor was quite clever and hilarious and now is retired living outside of Dallas. My only other thought about the priests from my home parish is that they seem to reflect the priesthood of today’s world, some really great, some not so great . . .
Everyday during my long Catholic education (kindergarten through 12th grade), we had religion class. We learned through the years about morals, parables, the Old Testament, the New Testament, church history, and my last religion class my senior year was Marriage and Family Living. Father Marrin, an affable man with a squeaky voice, taught Marriage and Family Living. A few years later, he was married with children! We all thought he knew way too much. Actually, he is now the editor of a Catholic magazine entitled Celebration.
Anyhow, my grade school was named after Pope Pius X. We were the St. Pius Tigers. I liked that particular ferocious moniker. Mainly because when I arrived in high school at Bishop Lynch, run by the Dominican Order of priests and nuns, I became a BL “Friar.” You know, like Friar Tuck. F, F, F, R, I. A, A, A, R, S. I am sure that instilled fear in our opponents! Can you imagine?
–Tiger on St. Pius X campus donated by St. Pius X Class of 2010
A few years ago I visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and was walking around and came upon the body of Pope Pius X. He died just before World War I. His body remains well preserved despite the fact that he did not want to be embalmed and was not. Apparently, he was a heavy smoker and died of a heart attack. I was quite shocked to see my parish’s namesake displayed so. I still don’t know what to think. He’s not the only pope on display.
–from Wikipedia by Moshe Ash
I remember most of my teachers through the years. In 3rd grade, it was a joy to get to go to math in Sister Philomena’s classroom. She was such a bubbly Irish lady that made you feel special. She went back to Ireland and got married. My first speech class was in 7th grade. Mrs. Hudgins worked and worked with me, even at recess, because I could not project my voice, I COULD ONLY YELL! And then there was that new teacher freshman year. He was young, single, cocky. He taught history, algebra, and coached basketball. My fear of math escalated at this time. He would hover over me and others during tests and would yell, “THINK, Miss C., THINK! No SILLY, SILLY mistakes.” Even under such tremendous pressure, I somehow did learn. I actually use my algebra skills every day in my line of work.
The Catholic school uniforms could be a whole posting of their own. Plaid. Blue plaid. Year after year. Brown plaid. Year after year. Today, I do not wear plaid. In elementary school, we attended Mass once or twice a week. If you were a girl, you had to wear a beanie in church. Yes, a beanie. There were two models of beanies. There was a beret type and there was also a stiff type not unlike that of Spanky McFarland. I prefered the Spanky type then, although today I would prefer the French beret version. Both of these models were excellent Frisbees.
In high school, as a senior, you were allowed to wear colored sweaters, solid, but colored nonetheless. Also during senior year, you didn’t have to wear white knee socks. Or black shoes. You could wear any color socks and shoes. You can imagine how the girls expressed themselves through socks. You had your anklet wearers, your fuzzy, neon-colored socks wearers, your argyle wearers (me). One girl even wore knee high hosiery just to be different! The boys expressed themselves through their ties. Some liked wide, some liked thin, some leather, some bow, some paisley. It could get entertaining. Uniforms were a good thing, though. You certainly had no trouble deciding what to wear each day and you didn’t have to go school shopping in the fall, except for non-school clothes.
All in all, I enjoyed going to Catholic school. I applaud all of the hard work the nuns, priests, and lay teachers and administrators did to make our schools a proper environment for learning, as well as many parents. I am appreciative to have been taught by such dedicated professionals who stressed the importance of family, community, and service.