Back to school means back to growing in faith

Sisters at Catholic schools find God in each student and subject

by Renae Bauer
published Fall 2013

Before the backpacks, notebooks, shoes and pencils are purchased, there's a band of people preparing for the new school year in a slightly different way.

They're writing welcome letters to families, making index cards for each student, and creating environments that encourage curiosity and deepen faith. They are our Sisters who teach in Catholic schools, and they love what they do.

"I wouldn't teach anywhere but a faith-based program," says Sister Ruth Ann La Bine, who teaches first grade at St. John Nepomucene School in Little Chute. "God is everywhere, so as we interact it should be evident that God's love is everywhere ... and unconditional."

Teaching the Catholic faith in every subject is possible, says Sister Mary Berg, a middle school teacher at St. Bernard School in Green Bay. "For example, last year I taught seventh grade social studies. We always watched CNN Student News, a 10-minute segment at the beginning of class.  Many times after the program we prayed for what was happening in the world."

Faith integration is happening in the lower grades, too.

"In the read-aloud books, I ask students to see how God's hand is in that story," says Sister Carolyn Zahringer, a second-grade teacher at Holy Cross School in Bay Settlement. Usually, the students pick up on the message of goodness, she says.

Maybe the students are tuned into goodness because their teachers are praying for them long before the school year begins. Sister Ruth Ann likes to "ponder and pray" for her students and families in her prayer space at home while Sister Carolyn takes her class list with her on summer retreat so she can pray for the children and their families by name.

All three Sisters look forward to the routine the school year brings as well as the unknown each class offers. "There's something familiar about every year … but there's also something different because the kids are different and their needs are different and the parents' expectations are different," says Sister Carolyn.

Always constant are the Sisters' hopes. Sister Mary sums it up: "My dreams and hopes are that the students will continue to grow and deepen their relationship with God."

Stay in touch -- This story originally appeared in the Sisters' newsletter. Subscribe to our FREE printed newsletter (issued five times a year) and our FREE e-spiritual reflections (weekly). We enjoy hearing from you so visit our "Send a Greeting to Sister" page and say hello. Thank you and God bless!


BOUNDLESS FAITH: Sister Ruth Ann La Bine, left, says she wouldn't teach anywhere else than a faith-based environment. She recently started her 29th year at St. John Nepomucene School in Little Chute. (Renae Bauer photo)


Sister Mary Berg


Sister Carolyn