Chapter 6 – Where have all the nuns gone?

I never attended a Catholic school, I was always a public school student.  I remember when I was entering kindergarten that my parents thought about sending me to Catholic grade school.  I had cousins that were attending St. Joan of Arc Catholic School but it was decided that I would attend Genoa Elementary and would become a Skipper instead of a St. Joan of Arc Dragon.  Just so you realize, Genoa was by no body of water and the real St. Joan of Arc never fought real dragons.

So I entered public school but because I went there I had to go to CCD.  What does CCD stand for?  Well I will tell you, well let’s see, well I really do not know.  It probably stands for Catholic ……….I honestly do not know!  The best that in Texas it is called CCE.  I still call it CCD in Texas and people just look at me.

I had to look CCD up and it stands for, get this, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.  We now know why they told us kids that we were attending just plain old CCD.  I wouldn’t have went with a code name like that.  Oh this gets better, I had to look up what CCE means and it stands for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Call me crazy but shouldn’t that then be CCC? , or C cubed?  or Triple C?.  I guess the first one sounds mighty Spanish , the second is too mathematical and the third sounds like the ranch where Marty from the Mouseketeers used to go to camp.  The definition then goes on to tell you that CCE is from the Latin name, Catechismus Catholicae Ecciesiae.  Ok, lets stick with CCE or for me CCD.

So we went to CCD on get this, Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.  Now who thinks that kids AND parents would want to get up on a Saturday morning to go to “school”?  That’s not even the worst part of this journey.  The worst part was that I had to miss all of the Saturday cartoons that were shown on this day of the week.  I’m going to take a wild stab at who thought of this scheduling for us.  Catholic school goers, that’s who.  We were being punished by someone who already learned religion in the Catholic school that they chose to attend,  had no kids, was never a kid and who did not enjoy Scooby Doo or the award winning Land of the Lost.  Darn that Sleezak of a person.

We went on Saturdays for about 4-5 years and then the best idea in the world occurred.  The diocese gave an added choice of going on Wednesday evenings.  This is one of the first Christmas miracles that I have been part of and witnessed.  Thank you to whoever made that decision.  I was now free on Saturday mornings to see if Will and Holly ever made it back from the past.  Spoiler Alert:  Will and Holly never made it back!  Although now that I think it through, I did not see them in the remake with Will Ferrell so maybe they did return to the present time.  I also have to thank this person for choosing a TV evening that was not important enough to hinder my religious educational paying attention.  I watched Eight is Enough but I could miss episodes and not be despondent.

I went to CCD and I was there to learn all about my Catholic religion.  I honestly cannot recall one iota of information that I obtained at these classes.  In second grade you prepare for your first communion so I’m sure that I learned what that entailed because I still go to communion to this day and I get to receive every time.  That hand change rule took a few good years but all of us Catholics took the challenge and received instead from our tongues to our right hand under our left hand that will lightly grab the host to transport it to our own tongues.  Don’t you love being able to tell stories of how things used to be and when they changed you were there?  It has to be the same feeling as when that first light bulb went on.  Think about that, I am correct.  I must have learned all of the prayers to be able to go to confession when I was in the 4th grade.  OK, I’m truly confessing this, I always read the prayer from the card that is in the confessional.  I’m confessing again, let me change that to the card that used to be in the confessional.  I now go to the communal confession mass and love it.  Hey it is nerve racking in that little confessional room as it is.  I had to come up with sins AND memorize prayers when I was made to go to confession.  Confess yourself, you all did the same.

I remember being dropped off at CCD and thinking that it was only an hour and a half.  I can do this.  The time passed quickly and they would give us homework in our workbooks that we all did five minutes before we came back the next week.  Sometimes they took us in the church and we got to go “behind the scenes”.  Sometimes we had a substitute that had no idea what to do with us.  Heads Up Seven UP time!

CCD was not a problem until we would hear the steps of a single person walking towards our room.  We would all quiet down to listen to where those steps were leading. All of us would really start praying in our heads, “Please Lord, do not let those steps lead into St. Joan of Arc Dragon room 4B. Amen.”  If the steps passed us by we knew that our prayers were heard and answered.  If those steps stopped at our door entrance we knew someone in class was not praying correctly.

The steps that we feared hearing was from St. Joan of Arc’s resident nun, Sister Eleanor.  She would be dressed all in black.  Black top, black skirt, black stockings, black Earth Shoes, and her black habit.  There was a stripe of white at her habit’s edge around her head and she had a white collar like a priest but that was where the “color” ended.  To me she was about 60 years old, stood about 6 feet tall, had a look of nonlaughter at all times and she scared the &$#@ out of me.  (We will get to Catholic school language in another chapter.)

Whenever Sister Eleanor walked into our CCD room I would quietly thank the Lord that I went to public school and did not have to face the wrath of Sister Eleanor on a daily basis.  No one moved when she would enter the room.  Even the CCD teacher would hardly move or talk.  We were all angels at this moment of entrance into our room.  We knew that she was going to ask what we were learning about and we all knew that none of us would have to answer because we had Amanda H. to rely on.  Thank you Jesus for putting Amanda in my CCD class every year so that I had the answerer in my class to respond to Sister Eleanors questions that were like Catholic religion questions from the Notre Dame book of questioning.  Amanda would shoot her hand up for each question and the rest of us Catholic savants would sit there and look at Sister Eleanor in a way that made her always call on Amanda.  Her hand was stretched to heaven in a way that would be a sin not to call on this eager holy child that knew the answers.

I’m sure that if I could go back in time that I would see Sister Eleanor differently.  I’m sure that she was a lovely servant of the Lord.  Actually when they invent time machines I’m going back in time to see the 1700’s but I’m sure that I would see my CCD days in a different light so I’m going to just know this and travel to other interesting times.  CCD I know was still not that interesting, sorry.

So where have all of the nuns gone?  Sister Eleanor lived at St. Joan of Arc and she was the principal of St. Joan of Arc.  I wonder how much she was paid for that job?  Wait, was she paid a salary that a lay person would receive if they were principal?  Questions, questions, questions.  When you are a student you just accept things as they are.  We knew that Sister Eleanor lived and was the nun for St. Joan of Arc but how did she get there, what other things did she do, and why are there hardly any more nuns in the Catholic schools as we speak?

I have not gone to a church that had a nun in residency since I was in high school.  Teaching now in a Catholic school I have never had a nun to help in the school or to even come to help from another location.  Attention Rome, we have a problem.  I know that there is a shortage of men wanting to become priests but why do we never hear about the loss of women who want to become nuns to also serve the church?  Well I think that I have discovered the answer to this mystery.

When accepting to teach in a Catholic school you have to accept that you are not going to make the amount of salary that you would if you were teaching in a public school.  This is fine.  I knew that when I decided to teach in the Catholic School System that I was going to be paid less but I liked the idea of teaching science in a school of my religious upbringing.  I began teaching and the answer and or question of where does all of the tuition money go was brought to my attention immediately.  I knew that the tuition has to pay for all of us teachers, no one can work for free.  Wait, the nuns worked for less that us teachers so maybe they knew that they were doing a job in the schools that went past what a person could handle without being paid back.  Yes I know that they were working for the Lord but even the nuns needed money to buy the necessities of life.  I noticed that in both Catholic Schools in which I have taught have out of date books and being in the science class, both were less than accomodating in having science materials that were up to date and lets face it were actually there.  I have had to buy rulers, wire, mechanical pencils, measuring items, and the list goes on and on.  I was and am always willing to buy items that are needed in my classroom but it does get to you.  Do any of you work at a company and have to buy your own kleenex, or paper clips, or glue that actually sticks because the brand that the Catholic School buys is the cheap type from China that actually says on the label, Gleu stick.  This is not a typo, this is what our Chinese Brand Gleu Sticks were labeled.  Also money saved by buying the one ply toilet paper is not acceptable when you are in a school for at least 9 hours.  Teachers do go to the bathroom!

I love teaching in the Catholic School setting.  I love that I can teach science AND can talk about evolution and maybe that if God created everything then maybe he created evolution.  We can talk about religion and not be afraid that a parent is going to complain.  We can celebrate the Holy Days together and we can be gladly interrupted to recite the Hail Mary during a class time.  The only thing that bothers me about the Catholic School system is that they want to have Catholic Schools but the money is not given from the top to help in obtaining all of the supplies that are needed to teach correctly.

I’ve had science books that were last published in the year 2000.  Science is a changing topic and let me tell you that we have learned and discovered a lot in 18 years.  Pluto is still a planet in my Earth Science books, there are some new man made elements missing in my Chemistry book , and they describe a round worm in my Life Science books as a piece of spaghetti.  I do blame the editor of the Life Science book for allowing an obvious non-science person for letting that example slip by.  Worms = living, Spaghetti not living.  I know its a shape example but I am teaching middle school, not preschool.

So lets get back to the missing nuns.  I honestly believe that the churches could not support all of the nuns that would live on campus at the Catholic schools.  Back in the day, all of the teachers were nuns and they have had to work for literally peanuts and a place to sleep and pray.  This is a very giving thing and it is a calling to help to serve God and his church.  I really think that the church itself saw that it was actually cheaper to pay a lay person a cheap salary than to board teacher nuns.  I believe that we Catholic teachers are paid less and it is expected by us that we will buy items ourselves to accommodate what the school needs.  I have already said that I am more than willing to buy items for my science room but it does get expensive and I do have my own kids in college to pay for.  I just believe that if a religion and or a business wants to have a building and a company then they should want to pay for it.  Wait, the Cleveland Browns made the City of Cleveland build a stadium for a team owned by a wealthy owner.  What am I talking about?  All of us poor people need to open our eyes.  Where are the unpaid nuns and where does all of that donated money go?  I’m leaving it at that.

P.S.  I do wish the nuns would come back, we need some female leadership in the Catholic Schools and even in the church.  Mother Mary pray for us for this.  Amen.













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