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For the past three years, I have been the diversity. Seventy-five percent of the students around me share in the Roman Catholic faith, while I am a devout Presbyterian. However, attending a Catholic school has not diverted me from my Presbyterian upbringing; rather, it has allowed me not only to act in but to contribute to an atmosphere in which I am an outsider.
Undoubtedly, many glaring differences exist between the Catholic and Presbyterian Churches – the Mass, Confession, and the idea of Purgatory to name a few – but spending my formative high school years in both cultures has encouraged me to integrate my beliefs with the principles of Jesuit high school. The best example of this occurs before my home baseball games or practices. Between the academic quadrant and the baseball field stands a statue of Mary, whom the Catholic Church references much more frequently and reverently than does the Presbyterian community. Nevertheless, prior to each visit to the field, I spend four or five minutes at the statue, thinking of any concerns or blessings I may have carried with me through the day and close with the recitation of a simple, yet holistic prayer: “Dear Lord, help me to play safe, play smart, and play for You.” Although Presbyterians do not regard Mary in a style compatible with Catholic customs, I have learned to appreciate Mary as a vital feature of the all-encompassing Christian community. Combining these aspects is one way in which I have connected my Presbyterian faith with my demanding Catholic education.
Jesuit prides itself on its rigorous academics, which extend into the world of faith. The school’s curriculum consists of four years of religious courses ranging from Catholic morality to the Bible’s history. These classes have presented a platform on which my classmates and I have gained mutual appreciation for our unique beliefs. In some cases, I have contributed a Protestant interpretation of a Bible story to the Catholic class, whereas I also bring Catholic tenets to my weekly youth group meetings at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. My exposure to and involvement in diversity has allowed me to counteract, in a minor yet powerful way, the religious tensions brought about by Martin Luther some 400 years ago.
Regardless of the religious contrasts between my beliefs and those of my school, the Jesuit school has taught me to accept and to manifest my principles in a manner that benefits my peers and diversifies my community. My high school experience has eliminated any fear of expressing my views in a foreign environment, and I will convey this mentality in every aspect of my life.
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