By Father Paul Haverstock
In my first three years of priesthood, one of the greatest blessings has been working at a parish with a school. With our parish offices located in Shakopee Area Catholic School (SACS), I get to see our students every day. Interacting with them in the hallway, in the classroom, at our weekly school Mass — and even when I’m grocery shopping — gives me a sense of joy and a portion of their youthful energy.
At SACS, our students are immersed in Catholic culture. When they walk past the chapel, they make the sign of the cross because they understand that Jesus is truly present in the Tabernacle. The students see priests on a daily basis, and they feel comfortable enough to say “hi.” Each day ends with prayer over the loudspeaker. And every year, the teachers and priests take on our eighth grade basketball team for a fun matchup.
I look forward to my weekly visits to our middle school religion classes. They have lots of great questions, like if non-Catholics go to heaven, where the entrance to the Garden of Eden is or how they’ll know if God is calling them to be a priest. Sometimes I quiz them on Catholic saints and trivia or show them a music video from Josh Garrels. It’s through these encounters that students discover that I love them, that God loves them and that our Catholic faith is awesome.
With a faith-based education, we’re able to actively support vocations. In February, we took all 65 eighth graders on an all-day vocation experience. The girls visited the Pro Ecclesia Sancta Sisters’ convent in Bloomington, where they celebrated Mass, toured the convent and talked with the sisters. Our pastor, Father Erik Lundgren, led the boys on visits to St. John Vianney College Seminary and the St. Paul Seminary where they heard from seminarians about their discernment process.
From these special events to the small, daily moments, I believe that our school is making an eternal difference in our students’ lives by teaching them to love God, live the faith, be open to a vocation and to make a difference for Jesus Christ in the world. That’s all possible because of our amazing teachers, administration and staff. My prayer is that our Catholic schools claim the wonderful heritage that is theirs by passing on the faith without compromise for the glory of God and the building of His Church.
At SACS, our students are immersed in Catholic culture. When they walk past the chapel, they make the sign of the cross because they understand that Jesus is truly present in the Tabernacle.