By Ruth Tomczyk
Catholic education is God’s will. How do I know this, you ask. Well let me tell.
When my first child was approaching school age, I started thinking and praying about my choices for education in my local area. There was, of course, the public school system, but I really wanted God to be the center of my children’s education.
I considered home schooling. I have a friend with six children, all home schooled and all fantastic children, but did I have the patience for home school? I didn’t think so. There was a Christian school in a nearby town, but my husband and I are Catholic and wanted the Catholic faith taught to our children.
In this same town was a Catholic home school co-op operated out of the local Catholic Church. This seemed like our best choice, but after an open house visit, my husband and I realized that we wanted a more traditional education for our children, similar to the education we both received at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights (our hometown).
Shortly after our visit to the home school co-op, we received a brochure in the mail for St. Mary’s Catholic School in Pine City. Neither of us had any idea there was a Catholic school in this nearby town. It seemed to me like a message from above.
So I went to check out this school in Pine City. The moment I walked into the kindergarten classroom at this tiny unknown school, I knew what my choice would be: St. Mary’s.
It was small, traditional, Catholic, friendly and inviting. This school was the answer to my prayers. After discussing the school with my husband, the next day I signed my first child up for preschool with a commitment to attend kindergarten at St. Mary’s in Pine City.
Now with this commitment to attend St. Mary’s came the commitment to drive our children to and from school every single day. We lived in the Rush City school district and St. Mary’s is in the Pine City school district. The drive to and from school each day was an 80 mile per day commitment.
When we first started out, gas prices were affordable, no problem, but they quickly rose to unaffordable and a problem. I began to fret every day about how I was going to afford to drive our children to school. Our gas bill was more than our tuition bill.
Well, my fretting turned into prayer, and I asked God for help. I am always frank and open in my prayers to God, talking to him as if he were in the seat next to me, so one day, after filling up the car with gas and again wondering how I could afford this educational choice, I turned to God and said, “If St. Mary’s is indeed where you want our children to go to school, you’ll have to help us out here. We can’t afford the gas.”
More help from above?
Now, I wasn’t asking for money to fall from the sky, I was willing to work for it, extra hours at work, a second job, whatever it took. I just needed direction. These talks went on for a few weeks, and I continued to wonder how my husband and I would afford the gas bill to and from school.
Then one day, I dropped the children off at school and as I was leaving a woman stopped me. I had never seen this woman before. I had no clue who she was. She asked me if I drove from Rush City every day to bring my children to school at St. Mary’s.
I told her yes and then she asked me if I was aware that the Rush City school district would reimburse me for my travels. I was dumbfounded. I began to shake. I questioned her further. Turns out because there is no alternative form of education in my school district, and I want to enroll my children in an alternative school, outside of the district, I will be reimbursed from my school district for my travel.
I asked the stranger for the name of the person to contact in Rush City, said thanks and got back in my car. Immediately I started to praise and thank God. I was awestruck by what I perceived as a miracle, an answer to my prayers and validation that God’s will was for my children to attend St. Mary’s School.
As soon as I got home, I called the contact in Rush City (turns out she was a St. Mary’s graduate), inquired about the program and requested the paperwork to be mailed. Within a week, I was set, and my worries over the gas bill vanished.
I have never since then worried about the gas bill and never doubted where my children should go to school. I know it is God’s will that my children should attend St. Mary’s. Every once and a while I still cringe at the total on the gas pump when I am filling up on my way to school, but I very quickly remember it’s OK.
It’s God’s will. It will be OK.
Ruth Tomczyk is a parent of St. Mary’s School students.