Catholic schools give life skills, fond memories
ATLANTA, Ga. (Georgia Bulletin) - During Catholic Schools Week, graduates of those schools throughout the Atlanta area are thanking parents for the sacrifices they endured to send their children to a Catholic school.
FORMING YOUNG LIVES - Twenty-five-year-old Yvonne Noggle, far left, walks from the music and art rooms of St. Jude the Apostle School, Atlanta, a wing of the school that did not exist when she graduated in 1997. Escorting Noggle are (l-r) Xia Davis, director of admissions, Ruth Mallory, office manager, and Kathy Davis, director of curriculum. Xia Davis taught Spanish, Kathy Davis taught fifth grade and Mallory was a middle school assistant when Noggle was a student. Today Noggle is program coordinator for the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Office of Religious Education. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
“I had a great experience attending Atlanta Catholic schools that included many wonderful things,” said Eric Buergler, a 23-year-old building automation technician. “To start off, there is the top-notch education that opens the doors to good colleges. Better yet, at least from a kid’s point of view, the companionship with the other students leads to friendships throughout grade school and high school and beyond. These two things create an excellent experience that points to a successful future.”
Buergler, who attended St. John Neumann Regional School, Lilburn, and St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, continues to profess the faith that was fostered in his Catholic school experience. He currently serves as a Life Teen core member at St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta, where he helps with the faith formation of a new generation.
The feeling of nostalgia Buergler experiences is multifaceted. While important, it was not just the education or friendships that made the experience positive. He also learned from his teachers how to honestly care for others, an attribute he practices with the youth at St. Brigid.
“I will remember the teachers,” Buergler wrote in an e-mail. “All of the teachers were genuinely interested in helping you be the best you could be and seeing you succeed. They wanted to share their passions about not only the class material they were teaching you, but also their faith and hobbies.”
This positive outlook on Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta is shared by other graduates. Yvonne Noggle, a 25-year-old alumna of St. Jude the Apostle School, Atlanta, and St. Pius X, also looks backs on her experience as something that shaped and prepared her for the future.
Noggle said she feels blessed that she was able to grow up in an encouraging environment. She describes her experience as one that not only allowed her to be educated about the faith, but also to be “well-equipped to affirm the truth about our beliefs when challenged in a public setting.”
Noggle now serves the church as the program coordinator in the Office of Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
As with Buergler, Noggle recognizes the importance of the friendships that were made and strengthened over many years.
“The friendships I have made in the Catholic schools here in Atlanta are those that will last a lifetime,” wrote Noggle in an e-mail. “Being in an environment where faith and religion are encouraged and made a focal point of everyday life fosters strong friendships with a solid foundation.”
The most significant feature of a Catholic school experience for Noggle, however, was access to the sacraments. She recalls being able to attend daily Mass or a Communion service at St. Pius X and receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
“These opportunities were instrumental for me, and for many of my peers, to help and inspire us to become closer to Christ,” she said.
‘I had an incredibly positive experience’
The sacraments were also an important part of Catholic school to Jimmy Mitchell, a recent graduate of Marist School, Atlanta. The 22-year-old is now a senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and he remembers the influence his high school had on him.
“I had an incredibly positive experience at Marist,” said Mitchell in an e-mail. “Truly seeking to form well-rounded students, the education at Marist provides a great balance of intellectual, spiritual, and human formation. … With daily Mass, frequent reconciliation services and endless opportunities through retreats, Marist sought first and foremost to develop men and women of God. I am grateful for the foundations provided through their community.”
Mitchell understands the importance of Catholic schools throughout the world, not just in North Georgia. He believes that, as long as the schools “stand faithful to the magisterium, remain relevant to young people and seek always to glorify God,” they will continue to play an essential role in the development of youth.
Stephen Lenahan says he is still using the skills acquired in his Catholic education. Lenahan, who attended Our Lady of Victory School, Tyrone, in seventh and eighth grade and Our Lady of Mercy, Fairburn, for high school, is currently a catechetics/theology double major in his junior year at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Lenahan feels that his experience with Catholic schools in the archdiocese helped prepare him for the rigorous schedule he now has.
“I have taken what I learned inside the classroom and outside the classroom on with me to college,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Many times I have had to make decisions in my life that ...
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