By Cynthia Zook
Imagine a day in the life of a Catholic school student. Members of the Called To Be One (C2B1) Catholic school planning committee recently engaged in that exercise. Father Ryan Moravitz, vocations director for the Diocese of Duluth, shared the story of a hypothetical Catholic school student named Zoe. He used the example to illustrate a model of education that calls all of us to serve the needs of students and their families. Where do you fit into the story?
Zoe wakes at 6:30 a.m. and hears a loving voice say, “Good morning, honey.” Her day is off to a bright start, nurtured by a caring family. She makes her way to breakfast and pours milk on her favorite cereal — a meal provided in part by the mission account at her family’s parish.
Zoe gathers her homework and remembers how her parents helped her understand math problems last night. She puts on her coat and grabs her backpack. Both were gifts from the school stewardship team, which assists struggling families. Zoe lives just a block from her school. She bounces in the door with a smile and is greeted by Principal Jones. The warm welcome gives her confidence to begin the school day.
As Zoe strolls down the hall, she notices the statue of Mary. She feels protected and recalls last week’s assembly, when a woman shared the beautiful story of Mary. There is a plaque by the statue. She reads it and wonders about the person who donated such a beautiful gift.
Zoe is in third grade. She is eager to hear what the teacher has planned. Her teacher is patient when Zoe struggles with her studies. Yesterday, the teacher taught about the ocean with images, videos and a lesson on the SMART Board. It captured Zoe’s imagination. She dreams about seeing the ocean. This interest was sparked because the school board wanted teachers to have quality tools in the classroom. Its development committee raised funds for the SMART Boards.
Later that day, Zoe’s class goes to chapel for adoration. Father taught them that incense rises to Jesus just like her prayers. She prays for her family and her teacher. During the prayer before lunch, Zoe realizes she forgot her lunch. Tears start to well up in her eyes. The lunchroom volunteer notices and gives her a sandwich, a banana and milk. Zoe loves sitting with her classmates. She thinks of them almost as siblings. It is great to have such good friends.
At the end of the day, Principal Jones announces that the bishop will visit next month to celebrate Mass. The bishop came to Zoe’s classroom once. He was so tall! The class asked him many questions: “Why do you always wear a black suit?” “Did you go to a Catholic school?” “Why do you wear that chain that goes to your pocket?” Zoe is excited tell her family about the bishop! The hallway is crowded as Zoe meets her brother and sister to walk home. Principal Jones reminds students to zip their coats. A board member seeks parent volunteers for an upcoming fundraiser. Father gives students high fives. Teachers smile from their doorways. The lunch volunteer pats Zoe on the back and tells her to remember her lunch tomorrow. The bishop’s picture in the hallway reminds Zoe about next month’s Mass. Zoe walks past the statue of Mary and again wonders about the donor.
This was just one of many good days for Zoe as a Catholic school student. Someday she will think back on all of the people who touched her life. She will recall the teachers and staff who shared knowledge, love and patience; her family who created and nurtured her in love; the principal whose leadership guided students toward success; the priest who sanctified and proclaimed the Gospel; a volunteer with a servant heart; and a school board that discerned and governed according to the school’s mission.
Catholic school students are blessed by many people in different ways. Share your gifts and touch lives every day.
Cynthia Zook is director of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Duluth.