Written by Claire Velte
Paul VI High School, Haddonfield
In the past three years as a student at Paul VI High School, I have become acutely aware of the impact of my Catholic education. I consider the opportunity to attend PVI a gift because it blends all aspects of my life, including academics, social interaction, service in my community, and my relationship with my faith. My relationship with my faith has been especially impacted as a result of my Catholic education, and I could not be more impressed with the effect the Paul VI family has had upon it.
I came from a small, public middle school with an intense focus on academics and barely any emphasis on personal growth, so Paul VI was a new and rewarding adjustment. Not only were my first impressions of my freshman year teachers positive, but I felt my four years at the school would be enriching in a much deeper sense. And though this was immediately apparent to me in ninth grade, it took until my junior year for my Catholic education to impact my faith in a very real way.
When I was assigned Mr. Rendfrey as a teacher for religion this year, I was assigned a coach in my faith, and one whose attention to detail and investment in his students has made all the difference in how I perceive the world. I didn’t necessarily find a connection in my life regarding the principles of my Catholic faith and the impact that it has on collective society through service and reverence. Mr. Rendfrey opened my eyes to all of this.
I can safely say Mr. Rendfrey’s teachings have changed my life’s view. I appreciate the way he makes religion accessible to everyone, and his outlook transcends literal teachings to encompass unique interpretations of God’s influence.
Coming to his class as a student without a concrete understanding of her relationship with God, he has helped me to understand the complexities of my faith, as well as how to remedy any doubts I may have within it. His teaching contains a strong emphasis on understanding and utilizing sacramental awareness, a way of thinking in which one comes to recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary. This way of thinking allowed me to examine the world around me through the filter of my faith and to recognize the kindness and love within it. My Catholic education creates an opportunity for introspection that I may have missed out on had I not chosen to attend Paul VI.
The energy expended by the Catholic school teachers I have encountered throughout my education amazes me; their endless support and investment in their students’ wellbeing and success is a gift to all those under their guidance. I consider my Catholic education to be the gift of a lifetime because it has guided me toward a more intense examination of my faith and my relationship with the world around me. I’m only a junior so I am excited to see how much more I can grow at Paul VI in the coming year before I can take the lessons I’ve learned here out into the world.