A student, a teacher, a parent and an alumnus discuss Catholic schools
Ruth Hernandez Olvera
Senior at San Juan Diego Catholic High School in Austin
San Juan Diego Catholic High School and the Cathedral School of St. Mary in Austin are like family to Ruth Hernandez Olvera, a graduating senior at San Juan Diego Catholic High School in Austin.
“I will forever be thankful to God that these schools were put in my life,” said the teenager, who is also involved at St. Mary Cathedral Parish in Austin.
Olvera is thankful for the education she has received at the Catholic schools.
“Catholic schools build, mold and help students become the best version of themselves, the version that God created them to be,” she said. “Catholic schools help students discover themselves and discover God and his love.”
The Corporate Internship Program at San Juan Diego has helped her make many connections and friendships within the Austin community, and Olvera is looking forward to the future.
“Our generation are the leaders of tomorrow,” she said. “Every single day that I was in a Catholic school is a forever cherished memory. I have met so many great people there, have made so many friendships and learned so much.”
St. Joseph Catholic School in Bryan
Catholic schools are places people can connect with Jesus (and each other) in a meaningful way and challenge each other in love and truth, said James Adams, campus minister, theology teacher and religious coordinator at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bryan.
He said the mission of Catholic schools is to form the whole student — mind, body and spirit — in a Catholic environment in order to make disciples who become saints.
“Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to create a culture of belonging in our community,” Adams said.
As a U.S. Army veteran, he thought he was prepared to handle the challenges of teaching, but 10 years into teaching, Adams continues to learn and grow.
“I have become a more emotionally and spiritually mature man after a decade of teaching in the classroom,” he said.
Adams fondly recalls the generosity of his students as his wife battled cancer about seven years ago.
“During lunch one day, several students walked into my classroom and presented me with a very small tree that looked like it was straight out of the Charlie Brown Christmas special. On each of the dead limbs were several gift cards and envelopes of cash to help us with food and baby-sitters … I was completely blown away by their thoughtfulness and generosity,” Adams said.
St. Helen Catholic School in Georgetown
“As a former Catholic student and parent of Catholic school children, I believe being educated in a Catholic setting is important because it allows a person to be their true selves and be accepted by others for who they are,” said Rosie McGill, the parent of two children who attend St. Helen Catholic School in Georgetown.
The most prominent virtues Catholic schools teach are perseverance and kindness, she said.
“We will all have struggles throughout our lives, but it is with our faith and support of a faith-based community that helps us to persevere through any problem,” McGill said.
She believes the world needs Catholic schools now more than ever because faith-based education guides students to seek clarity as they interact with one another and their teachers.
“God created humans to live together, interact together, care for one another and most importantly love one another,” McGill said.
She is confident Catholic schools will continue to grow disciples of Christ and build strong communities of faith.
2nd Configuration Seminarian for the Diocese of Austin
Catholic education has a special place in Cameron Kologinczak’s heart. He spent most of his childhood roaming the halls of Holy Family Catholic School and St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin.
“Catholic schools are not only a place for education, but also have a special place in guiding students to encounter the living God in the sacramental life, prayer and community,” said Kologinczak, who is studying to be a priest at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
“My experience in Catholic education has helped me to grow as a person of community, but especially as a person in a Catholic community that is the central part of my life,” he said.
Catholic schools immerse students in the Catholic life for hours upon hours a day, five days a week, Kologinczak said. Thus, students learn how much God loves them and how we are all made to be in relationship with God.
“I really would not be the person I am today without the many graces and gifts that were given to me during my time in Catholic schools,” he said.