Sunday, January 23, 2011

At Catholic school, I learn, pray, laugh and cry

Heather Finster, an 8th grader at St. Raphael Catholic School, won a $10,000 scholarship to St. Petersburg Catholic High School with this essay.

By Heather Finster

At a Catholic school, I learn. At a Catholic school, I pray. At a Catholic school, I laugh. At a Catholic School, I cry. I have attended St. Raphael Catholic School for eight years–and this is my last. I have learned, prayed, laughed, and cried as I could never do anywhere else. A Catholic education has made a difference in my life because it prepares me for the future, both body and soul.

At a Catholic school, I learn. I can be confident in everything I do, because I will ALWAYS be assisted, challenged, nurtured, and praised. I have helped and been helped, but I am also able to share my knowledge and assist friends going to other schools. At a Catholic school, I am challenged. But what we learn is so much more than repeating definitions or memorizing terms. I’ve learned that history isn’t just history, science can be used to solve problems, and math is a part of everyday life. I encounter Christ in every class, every lesson, every face.

At a Catholic school, I pray. Could I pray before lunch with all of my friends anywhere else? Could I go to adoration every Wednesday and adore the Blessed Sacrament? Could I clutch hands with my volleyball team and pray before the championship game? Could I ask my friends to pray for me? Where other than at a Catholic school is faith life so perfectly integrated with academic? As my mom once told me, “Catholic education is like a well woven garment–every stitch, button, seam is intricately woven into every facet of life making it seamless.” Our faith life extends beyond 45 minutes of religion class. Our light shines beyond our school walls.

At a Catholic School, I laugh. Oh, and I do laugh! Creating memories as my classmates and I learn and grow, God reveals his sense of humor in so many ways, every day. From hilarious Social Studies skits, to the antics of our kindergarten buddies, to “accidentally” praying to the patron saint of our opponents’ school before a game, the relationships I make, the funny moments we have, are just so much different than they would be anywhere else. A Catholic school creates an environment where I can learn and laugh while receiving an education that prepares me for a lifetime.

Finally, at a Catholic school, I cry. I know that I will cry when I leave. I know that whenever I fall, fail, or falter, I always have a network of support around me. They will never let me stay down for long. It will be hard to say goodbye to the place I have received such a great Catholic education. I will look back at when I have learned, prayed, laughed, and cried.

However, as I near the end of my final year at St. Raphael, I cannot help but look forward to the next place on my journey where I will learn, pray, laugh, and cry. St. Pete Catholic, here I come!


  1. We are so proud of you Heather! Congrats on this well deserved honor.

  2. Beautiful Essay Heather! An honor you most definitely deserve:)!

  3. Very well put Heather, great job. Best to you in your years ahead at St. Pete Catholic.
    The Welch's

  4. Heather, this is beautiful! Congratulations and best wishes for much success as you finish 8th grade and move on to St Pete Catholic!
    -Mrs. Smith