I was able to capture a little gratitude from two Catholic-school grads this week.
From an interview with Peter Dans, a medical doctor, who wrote a book on Christians in the movies in his spare time:
How does your Catholic education at Transfiguration School in New York’s Chinatown influence the way you take in and interact with popular culture?
As you know, the term “catholic” means “universal.” Our Catholic school textbooks, which affirmed God and country (Pro Deo, Pro Patria) and were inclusive, not hyphenated. The teachers taught us about the world; this was especially so at Transfiguration where they were Maryknoll missionaries.
I am especially indebted to Sister Mary Berchmans Flynn, who taught a combined fifth and sixth grade. She skipped me a grade by moving me over a row and counseled my parents to send me to a school that could better meet my needs.
At great expense, my mother, a court interpreter, and my stepfather, a merchant seaman, sent me to military school, which set me on the right path.
I got a chance to see Sister Berchmans during a stop in Hong Kong on my way to take care of cholera patients in Calcutta in 1963, and later in the 1970s at the Motherhouse in Ossining [N.Y.]. I must also mention that the neighborhood I grew up in, and which [urban planner Robert] Moses destroyed, was truly diverse, not in the phony way the term is used today. It was made up of Italians, Irish, Jews, Chinese, Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese, Puerto Ricans, and blacks.
I grew up understanding the motto “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one. Some invert that today to “out of one, many.”
And today with thriller writer Brad Thor (who recently announced he is Team Santorum):
LOPEZ: If I am not mistaken, you went to an all-boys Sacred Heart Catholic elementary school in Chicago called Hardey Prep. Does that make a long-term impact? On your writing? On your civic life? As you view issues of character?
THOR: Yes it does. So much of who I am as a man, a husband, a father, a member of my community, and a citizen comes from what I learned at Hardey Prep. If I forget everything I learned there, I will never forget the one phrase we were challenged with daily, “If not you, then who?”
This is the phrase I would challenge all of America with. Our nation is fighting for its very survival. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their Republic. If not you, then who?
Not every child can attend one, but so many Catholic schools are dedicated to being a life-changer and even -saver. Something John Boehner is well aware of. Something the Manhattan Institute’s Sol Stern has made plenty clear. And I am sure many who read this site can testify to in one way or another.
Some of you are creating your own Catholic school at home, the family being the first and primary educator. Not everyone can or does do that.
But many need the support. Some need their lives saved, and early. And sometimes the school can make every difference.