Growing Up Catholic: Part Nine
For a better understanding of the following work, please check out GROWING UP CATHOLIC Parts One through 8 in this blog that appear in the Archived Blog Pages
Stephen Arch email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have been following the past chapters of my work GROWING UP CATHOLIC, it isn't difficult to see that going to St. Mary's Help of Christian grade school was not the school for me. I didn't fit in.
It wasn't that I was a "bad" student, per se. In fact, I was a pretty obedient student, trying desperately to stay out of trouble (which rarely occurred). Trying desperately to avoid the rulers, the beatings, the insults, the two hour detentions, the "going to hells." Two issues that "forced" either my hand or the hands of the nuns, were the following: at that time, being a part of a large family (five children) and a working father and a stay at home mother, we didn't have a lot of money. That wasn't uncommon. Since I was a young child, I was a paper boy and worked as a stock boy at a local corner grocery story. I was able to make a few dollars at these jobs, and if I needed something special, for myself or for school, I had to purchase those items myself. The issues that really "forced" my hand had to do with me personally and some injustices thrown upon me by my teachers. I shall explain that in the next article.
However, due to some incidents that took place in 7th and 8th grade, (those incidents will be discussed in GROWING UP CATHOLIC PART TEN - too many to mention in this article). I began to find my philosophy of not merely accepting injustices without doing something about them. Because of my background, injustices didn't make sense to me, and I acted upon them, a lot.
I am the same today although I have learned to temper my "anger" and talk more and argue less. However, as an adolescent, my radar for injustices was always set on extremely high.
So, by the end of my eighth grade year, THE CONVERSATION took place. My mother, father, and I were summoned to the CONVENT on St. John's Street to TALK about my future. It wasn't a long conversation. Basically, Sr. Rosaria, the Principal of the School and the High School Head Mistress told my parents that I wouldn't be accepted back to St. Mary's High School, and that it would be MUCH BETTER that I attend Sto-Rox High School, the public school in my area. I might "fit in" better there.
My two older brothers and my two younger sisters, of course, would be more than welcomed back. For some reason, again, in my young life, I was scapegoated into leaving, and it was actually the first and best time that has ever happened to me.
I guess I didn't have what it took to finish education career in Catholic school. To me, at this point in my life, the conversation was a blur. That's how fast it was. "We don't want him back. We feel that he should be placed with the heathens in public school." I didn't fully understand, but I knew I never had to step foot in that school again and was highly pleased that everyone agreed. No arguments. No yelling. Of course not. My parents did everything the good sisters told them, and if it meant getting a pariah out of the parish, so be it.
(I was thinking - did this now make me a pagan adolescent?) Of course not, I still was a member of the church. I still had to go to mass, but I was stripped of my alter boy duties, that was for sure. Oh well, we all lose something when something is gained. Besides, I was a basketball player, and probably going to public school (although the catholic school basketball league at that time was pretty good) would help me become a better player.
Fortunately, I ended up having an excellent career at Sto-Rox School District, particularly at the high school level. Varsity basketball player, President of the Junior Class, President of the Student Council, lead actor in school plays, excellent English student (not so much in math, but that's a later discussion), voted "most popular" in my class my senior year. I had a really nice career. Thank you, sisters, for "releasing" me.
The gregariousness of my childhood that was stifled by the Sisters of Divine Providence was permitted to bloom by the "regular" teachers in public school.
Now to the next step in Growing Up Catholic. My four years in Religious Instruction Class. No. I wasn't out of the woods just yet. In order for me to actually leave the school, my parents had to promise that they would send me to RIC (religious instruction class) one day per week until I graduated from high school. One day a week. Not bad.
Until you do the math. Everyone knows that school is 180 days per year. Over the course of 4 years, that's 720 days, which means one day per week I would be confined to REC's roughly 144 evenings. Now that's a lot of days.
What would it be like? Where were the classes? What did I have to learn? Did I get any days off? NOW THAT'S ANOTHER STORY. COMING SOON.
We have learned that things are not always what we believe them to be. However, a brand new CATHOLIC CHAPTER IN MY LIFE WAS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE.
GROWING UP CATHOLIC PART TEN TO FOLLOW SOON.