By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
As I meditate on the existence and value of Catholic schools, immediately I am reminded of the forceful and valuable role that they have played in my life. Whatever is personal and unique in me comes from my family and my scholastic training.
My first experience of Catholic schools took place in Tyler, at St. Gregory School. The School Sisters of Notre Dame were the teachers who greeted me when I started the eighth grade there in 1946.
Sister Mary Bernard and Sister Zeno rode herd on the upper grades with a beautiful example of faith and of energy. Although we were few in number (only five boys in my class), Tom and Leonard and John T. and Jerry have inspired and helped me off and on during the past 68 years.
On being ordained a priest and soon after being sent to St. Augustine Parish in Pleasant Grove as my first assignment I discovered the joy of working with a new school and the Sisters of the Holy Ghost. These Irish nuns were strong in the faith and in the discipline needed to form good citizens of this world who would be working to inherit eternity. My eighth grade religion students taught me patience and humility, but the kindergarten kids on the playground at recess won my heart.
My next assignment was a lasting influence in my priesthood. Bishop Dunne Catholic School started in 1962. The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur and the Brothers of the Sacred Heard split the classrooms and the students. I was the chaplain in the middle for both faculties. The joy of sharing faith and knowledge came in abundance from the sisters. From the brothers, I learned how to appreciate the wonders of community life and the fellowship of hunting and fishing (since most were from Mississippi or Louisiana!)
Finally, my Catholic education grew some more with the John XXIII Regional School. It was an interesting hybrid of four Oak Cliff schools which had gotten into various sorts of financial trouble. The parents and the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur struggled mightily to inculcate harmony and joy and innovative activities into the minds and lives of the students. Unfortunately, the school would ultimately close its doors in 1999.
To this day seasoned men and women come up to me to recollect the time that they produced the play “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” or the times when they won championships in basketball or football; or the lessons of life they learned from the patience of their teachers.
I always look forward to hearing from my many friends who walked with me at these Catholic schools.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.