The difference a good nun makes

Why Catholic schools are pipeline to success

nunThe following comes from a Jan. 31 story by William McGurn in the New York Post.

These days much of my life is decided by two nuns.

My children spend their days with them. My nights and weekends are largely determined by the sports and dances and activities they organize. And then there’s the share of my paycheck they command, second only to our monthly mortgage payment.

One is Irish: Sister Noreen Holly, the Kerry-born principal of St. Vincent Martyr School in Madison, NJ. The other is Italian: Sister Patricia Pompa, principal of Villa Walsh Academy in nearby Morristown. Each fills her school with the only love that is true — the kind that takes us out of our own needs and wants to put others first.

We don’t speak much about love in education, not even during Catholic Schools Week. Instead, we focus on more tangible measures of success: how 99 percent of Catholic school students get their high-school diplomas; how a black or Latino child is 2.5 times more likely to graduate from college if he or she has attended a Catholic high school; how Catholic schools manage to do all this at a fraction of the cost of public schools.

Sonia Sotomayor, an alumna of Blessed Sacrament in The Bronx, calls Catholic schools a “pipeline to opportunity” for people like her. That’s true. And it’s true largely because Catholic school students are not just taught, but loved.

Back when he was playing for the New York Jets, Damien Woody sent his children to St. Vincent’s even though his family wasn’t Catholic. At a Christmas concert, a fellow parent asked him why. He answered, “My wife and I believe that a school where they love God will love my children.”

Don’t misunderstand: Sister Noreen presides over a little Lake Woebegone where scores show a large majority of the school’s students testing above the national average in all subjects. Each year SVMS sends large numbers of boys and girls to the best high schools, and she’s thrilled when she hears from a student who’s made good.

This week that happened to be an old student who was in the area for the Super Bowl. Sister Noreen taught him when he was at Sacred Heart in Jersey City, whose choir welcomed him back Tuesday with a rendition of “You Have To Have Hope.” If you want to know the difference a good nun and a good Catholic school can make in a life, ask the defensive end for the Denver Broncos, Robert Ayers.

In my home, my older girls have graduated from Sister Noreen to Sister Patricia. Those who say women are not taken seriously in the Catholic Church ought to spend a day with Sister Patricia. Fathers of her students include Wall Street bankers, high-powered lawyers, doctors, newspaper editors, even a governor. And when Sister Patricia says jump, we do — whether it’s to help sweep up after a dance or to raise funds for a new gym.

What makes Sister Patricia so formidable? Partly it’s achievement: Villa grads get into America’s top universities. Partly it’s that we all know there is no sacrifice she will not make if she thought it would help her students.

Mostly, it’s love….

In the popular view, Catholic schools succeed because they have greater discipline. There’s something to that, though it helps to remember that the Latin root for the verb “to discipline” is not “to punish” but “to teach.” It’s a lesson that begins with recognizing the equal and God-given dignity of every human being….

To read the entire article, click here.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Ann Malley says:

    “…Those who say women are not taken seriously in the Catholic Church ought to spend a day with Sister Patricia.” True of many a good and holy nun.

    Every Traditional priest I’ve met holds nuns in high regard. And not just for the visible work that they do. But rather for the potency of their prayer and unsung sacrifice.

    IOW: If God calls you to get something done, call the cloister then get to work.

  2. May the Holy Spirit of our Living God continue to inspire these holy women who teach and disciple our students. I ask who told some nuns to go out into the world and leave their sacred calling behind? I attended a meeting where one of the largest orders were praying for God to show them the vision. My God they were shown the vision many years ago. The Church of Jesus Christ needs you so very much . Please return to the Faith of your founder..God bless our dear Sisters forever….

  3. good cause says:

    Women actually run the Church, but you never hear about it. Here’s yet another example of why that is true.

  4. Peggy Bartley says:

    I miss BillMcGurn’s Tuesday column in the Wall Street Journal, so thank you for posting this on CCD.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Some of these Women Religious are, to be honest, second to Nun… :)

  6. I hate to be the Killjoy here, but what I got out of McGurn’s article–other than the “the Love”–is that Catholic schools are all about success and getting into college, particularly a more prestigious one, even for the less fortunate–or as McGurn calls them: black and Latino kids (now “2.5 times” more fortunate).
    Then there’s McGurn’s referencing Sonia Sotomayor and “the pipeline to opportunity.” Huh, what? Sure enough, Sotomayor–Ms. “Wise Latina” herself–graduated from Catholic schools, . . . from whence Her Honour (I added the “u” for prestige) race-baited (opportuned) her way through Princeton to the US Supreme Court. But hey, you can’t stop “the Love.”

  7. McGurn says, “. . . the Gospel that commands us to love one another obliges us to treat each person we encounter as we would Christ.”

    Ya know, I hate to nitpick (in part because one must click the entire article) but I believe the commandment is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” or elsewhere, “… love one another as I have loved you;” or perhaps McGurn was thinking of, “Whatever you do to the least of My brethren . . . ,” otherwise we’d be constantly falling down in adoration. In any case, close but no cigar, as they say.

    But maybe McGurn’s on to something here. A Freudian Slip perhaps. Secular Humanism, after all, in addition to success and good colleges, has long been the governing spirit in Catholic schools. That now presents itself in the form of the “Service” craze, i.e., Community Service, Irish twin to Social Justice. In many Catholic schools service program hours are a graduation requirement. Maybe McGurn’s slip is not a slip, and he really meant that it is We, and not just the priest, who are alteri Christi. And as all the Right People know by now, “We are the ones We’ve been waiting for.”

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