Catholic School Kids

By Kate Dugan

Two days ago, I woke up to my husband, Greg, listening to NPR broadcast President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. As I slowly realized the president really was introducing a potential supreme court justice by citing her swift decision-making in a baseball suit, Greg shouted to me: “Babe!  It’s a Latina!”

Even in my early-morning blur, I knew this was a big deal.

As Obama outlined more of her credentials, he dipped into her life history: “Sonia’s mom bought the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood, sent her children to a Catholic school called Cardinal Spellman, out of the belief that with a good education here in America all things are possible.”

It has been a long time since Catholic schools have been synonymous with something other than sexual abuse. How wonderful to hear this nod to Catholic education.

Being a Catholic school kid is definitely a marked experience. Several of the young women in From the Pews in the Back write about what it is like to grow up surrounded by Catholic ways of seeing the world.  I learned my public speaking skills from reading at the weekly school Mass.  My third-grade teacher taught me how to write in cursive right before she explained the miracle of the fishes and loaves.  In college, many of us went to Sunday Mass looking for a partner.  We studied theology alongside environmental science.

Being a Catholic school kid mixes up the sacred and the secular—blends the two together in such a way that its hard to know when you know something because you learned it in social studies or in religion or at Mass.

I love this blurriness. And I do think it enlivens who I am as a person; gave me a solid education in being human.  I look forward to learning how it has influenced Sotomayor’s perspectives, too.

Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back and lives on a boat on Harstine Island, Washington.

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