By Camryn Lanza
Saint Joseph Regional Elementary School, Hammonton
I have the gift of a lifetime because I go to a Catholic school. Being in a Catholic school is most certainly a gift, but it is a gift I learned to appreciate. I experienced something that made me appreciate this, and I am eager to share it with you.
It was the summer of third grade year entering fourth, my mom came home at the end of the day, as usual, and gave me the option to be moved to a public school. She had always hesitated about putting me in a public school because up to this time, I had spent my whole life in Catholic school.
Looking back to fourth and fifth grade, I now notice how I strayed from God. I didn’t know of a single person that had the same beliefs as I did, and when I stopped hearing about him I forgot. I was not learning about my faith, or how to make it stronger. I stopped doing the simplest things to keep my bond with God strong, like saying prayers before meals, or before going to bed. After a while not doing these things just became normal for me.
I admit that I had forgotten about my faith. I felt like I wouldn’t fit in because I thought I was different for having beliefs in something so many other people did not. It changed me, I became bitter, and when things weren’t going too good I didn’t pray so God could not hear me reaching out to him for mercy.
I felt that God had forgotten about me, but really it was me that forgot about him. I thought that everything would just come to me, like I didn’t need to work for it, but it was stupid of me to think that.
I don’t think he punished me for becoming distant, but I believe that when I disconnected from him that my life was turned upside down. Things took an unexpected turn. When I look back now, I think if I was closer to God, it would have helped me deal with certain situations better.
When my family and I decided it was time to move me back to Saint Joseph Regional Elementary School, the Catholic school I had previously attended, the faith that I lost instantly became restored, I was surrounded by God and felt that he had forgiven me. I was dedicated to rebuild the strong connection I had had before.
This experience taught me a lesson — it taught me that my Catholic education is the gift of a lifetime because without it I would be lost in a world of false gods, and uncertainty. Being in a Catholic school, leaving and then re-entering, made me realize how diverse everyone’s perspective on religion really is, and no matter what to never walk away from what you believe in. I need God in my life more than ever now, and I firmly believe that my faith would never be as strong as it is in this moment of my life if my parents did not send me to a Catholic school.