Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Chicago Archdiocese To Close 23 Schools: UPDATE

Last Friday, we reported that the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago had slated 23 schools for closure or consolidation. Charlie Madigan, who is a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, (and a Catholic school alumnus) has written (reg. required) warmly of his Catholic school days in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and how the Chicago school closures will affect the communities that they serve:

All of this came rushing back last week when the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced that it was closing 23 schools. I kept thinking about those Catholic school days, when you would go to Mass in the morning, eat your toast and drink your chocolate milk from a mason jar, then learn all about angels.

The last time I went home, my old grade school was gone, transformed into a day care center or something, its big windows and thick brick walls containing little but the imagined echoes of the abundant childhood of the 1950s, when six kids was viewed as a medium-size family. Damn, I loved Catholic school.

It's very sad that the archdiocese has to close down the 23 schools it identified in Chicago. All that history will just evaporate over time. The buildings will become something else. The ghosts of the old nuns will finally get to go to heaven, or wherever it was they got to go when the parish finally closed down, or when Lutherans or other denominations moved in.

My best and worst memories are from high school. And my bet is that, if you are of a certain age, yours are too. I want to hear about them, but more on that later.

John Kennedy was fresh in his grave and I had just been released from a seminary, where I had gone to study to become a missionary in a valiant Irish order. Not so far in, though, I pondered the realities of celibacy, along with the realities of the immense opportunities available to non-priestly males. Yikes, I said to myself, think about all that! I quit.

I arrived at Catholic High in Altoona well-prepped in Latin, mathematics and English Lit, because if there was one thing the priests in an Irish missionary order could do, it was teach Latin, math and English. Because of that, academics were a coast for me and I was able to focus all of my attention on my social life, preparation for which the priests had overlooked.

And, of course, Madigan couldn't resist the opportunity of telling us about his first kiss, which happened backstage in the school auditorium.

An Invitation: Please consider contributing to The Carnival Of Education: Week 4. All submissions should be received by 10:00 PM (Pacific) tonight. They may be sent to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Get all the details here. To view the First Edition of The Carnival, click here. The Second, here, and the Third, there. The Carnival will open here at the 'Wonks tomorrow morning.

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