Sunday, August 25, 2019
By Fr. Tom Hurley
I know we say it every year, almost as if it is expected to roll right off our lips at this time of August, “I can’t believe school is almost starting!” It’s an annual lament for some and a battle cry of readiness for others. Some people love the fact that school is starting; others would prefer a few more weeks of summer break. I think I find myself in the latter grouping. With such a wet, cold spring that leaked all the way into the back end of June, it does seem like summer 2019 was cut short a bit and maybe that makes the lamentation a bit more difficult to deal with. Oh well… ready or not, school is starting.
Even though I’m not necessarily in the “school business,” I seem to have had my fair share of contact with “back to school” duties this past week. I presided over liturgies for the faculties of our own Frances Xavier Warde School (now beginning its 30th year!) and my alma mater Marist High School. It’s fun to see and experience the new energy, the new faces of new teachers, and the eagerness to make it a great school year. And especially with our own Frances Xavier Warde School, where I obviously have the most contact and interaction since it is a vital part of the mission of Old St. Pat’s, I so appreciate the unbelievable dedication of these incredible teachers to not only teach well, but most importantly to create an environment where Faith, service, and diversity are some of the hallmark values that everyone works hard to uphold.
I’ve also been struck by a large number of Instagram posts many parents have created of their little guys and girls who are either starting school for the first time in preschool or kindergarten or they are off to a new grade level this year. There must have been a big sale on the special announcement boards the kids are holding up in the picture with their names, school, grade level, favorite food, favorite color, and what they want to do when they grow up. My favorite posting was seeing little Ryan McDonough who is entering preschool at Christ The King on the south side. Ryan already knows that he wants to be a crane operator when he’s older! I’m guessing cranes and dump trucks are piled high in that toy box at home!
But my fondest moment of “back to school” activities was this past Monday when I was at home with my parents. After dinner, I took my dad for a walk around the neighborhood, hitting the local park down the street and ultimately we made our way into the parking lot of our home parish which is located directly across the street from my parents’ house. The parking lot was abuzz with activity as parents and their children came together to find out their homerooms, meet new teachers, get uniforms finalized, purchase some school swag, and enjoy some ice cream on a mid-August night. As I rolled his wheelchair through the crowds, we met up with a few of the young neighbors who are sending their children to this Catholic school. Even though my dad struggles a bit with comprehending what’s going on around him and perhaps gets a bit overwhelmed by the crowds and the noise, I delighted in the many young parents who came up to my dad and said simply, “do you remember these days of going back to school, Dr. Hurley?” “Oh yes,” he said, “it’s well worth it!”
I’m sure “back to school” was a lot different (or maybe even non-existent) when we went to school. And when I think about my parents who put 12 children through that Catholic school (my 9 siblings and 3 grandchildren), the words of my 92-year-old father ring true again: it’s well worth it!
No matter what school you’re in, whether Catholic or public, have a great year filled with wisdom, growth, fun, and inspiration. Our kids are well worth it.
Father Tom Hurley