2020 Catholic Education Foundation High School Essay Contest
“We Are More Than” by Maggie March
When thinking of a Catholic education, the ideas that surface are likely religion classes, school Mass, and daily prayer. While the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville encompass these elements, the opportunity to attend one is about so much more, as such a school affords students with an opportunity to learn, live, serve, and succeed that extends beyond four years of religion class.
Learn. Catholic high school students are undoubtedly challenged from an academic standpoint, guaranteeing resilience in the face of future academic hurdles and instilling in them a lifelong love of learning. Further, Catholic schools cultivate academic honesty and foster collaboration, ultimately creating a culture of learning that prepares its students for life beyond high school. As the name suggests, learning at a Catholic high school also means learning about the Christian faith by not only understanding the Gospel message but also striving to live it out everyday by modeling the example of Jesus. Students are taught that they are called to be more than “smart,” as true learning couples actual knowledge with spiritual intelligence and good judgment.
Live. In Catholic schools, students are obviously expected to study and participate in Jesus’ call to discipleship from the comfort of their school. However, students also gain the skills they need to truly live as God intended, even when faced with the temptations “in the real world.” A Catholic education equips its students with the tools necessary to not only survive in a world seemingly designed to separate us from God but also to prosper. By seeking to understand Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Catholic students value the sanctity of life itself. Thus, students protect the lives of all individuals, including their own, by strengthening the basic human rights of community members through service as well as making decisions that enrich their lives as Christians. Therefore, students are called to be more than “alive” by acknowledging that, because all humans are made in God’s image and likeness, they should seek to promote the blessedness of both the material body and the spiritual self for all.
Serve. All schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville encourage their students to participate in service to the Louisville community and beyond, participating in both individual and school-wide acts of service that benefit the marginalized. Students donate time and energy to organizations that fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy so that they may further God’s reach. However, students are not inspired to act as servant leaders merely so that they may satisfy a completion grade or embellish a college application. Rather, students serve to be the hands of the Body of Christ at work. High school students pursuing a Catholic education are called to serve for more than the feeling of “goodness” that fills them after an act of service. Instead, students serve out of appreciation for that with which they have been blessed.
Succeed. Surprisingly, students who attend a Catholic high school are not taught to chase success. At least, students are not taught to chase what society has erroneously defined as success in the 21st century: accruing net worth, attaining social media fame, driving luxurious vehicles, owning a large estate. Instead, students are taught that success is more than just a popular magazine’s buzzword. Success is sharing God’s charity and selflessness to our neighbors by acting as a “little s saint.” Success is developing a relationship with God and inspiring others to do the same. It is being a model of agape love in the face of hatred. Success is helping others achieve success. Students are called to be more than what society deems as “successful” and are instead challenged to seek success in the eyes of God.
Students like me who are lucky enough to attend a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Louisville are called by God to achieve beyond what can be taught in four years of religious instruction. Acting in accordance with the mission of Jesus Christ, students learn, live, serve, and succeed by belonging to a community of believers with a shared mission to be “more than.”