When I was little girl going to Catholic school, as well as when I began my teaching career, there were 60 children in each of two grade levels. Sometimes a few more. Six rows of children sat ten deep. We put the tall kids in the back, but sometimes we rotated the entire row from one side of the room to the other so that each child sometimes got to sit next to the clanking radiator heaters during the winter where they would alternately boil and freeze.
Sixty children X 2=120 children in each grade level. 120 X 9 (grade levels because we even had two full kindergarten classes) =1080 per year, give or take a kid or two or 12. One Catholic school for one year. In my home town there were 6 Catholic schools. There were actually five, but by the early sixties, we had to add an entire school in the suburbs. All six schools weren't quite the same size, but for the sake of arguement, let's not even add in our suburban school and say we taught over 5000 children per year.
In one town. A small town at that.
Year after year, kid after kid. The dim bulbs and the smart alecks, the wall flowers and the show boaters, skinny and fat, cute and homely, little saints in knee socks, little devils with torn shirts.
We dealt with blood, upchuck, tears, bullies, laughter, gigglers, upchuck sawdust, missing janitors, windows that couldn't be opened, windows that couldn't be closed, chalk dust, pointer sword fights, months of indoor recess during the winter, beautiful First Communions, proud Confirmations and prepubescent young people.
Folks often ask me if I have hair. I do. But I don't know how I hung onto it.
Nuns were at the helm of these huddled masses yearning for no home work for the over 100 years. No more. If you can walk into a Catholic school today and find a nun, you are a lucky person. If you walked into my school and tried to find me you'd have trouble. I'm in the basement, sorting things. I'm a floater. You might run into me while I'm floating if you happen to be walking in the same hall at the same time as I.
I can tell there are no nuns anywhere else because of this note in my blog mailbox, during our discussion of Harry Potter:
"The Devil doesn't exist either...right?
You don't have the patience for the whole argument regarding Harry Potter...that's because you don't care. You don't care! Maybe if you had children, whose souls were given specifically to your charge, you would care, but you don't. You were kind to bring some soup to sick kids...how about a little soup for the soul?
Well you know what...I'm sick and tired of "so-called" religious spouting off about something they have no clue about. You haven't read a word of Potter, so keep your mouth shut before you give advice that could be detrimental to the soul. That's right , the soul. The soul, the soul, the soul. Sorry for my disrespect to your position of authority, but please quit misusing it."
Clearly this person has never had a nun for a teacher.
I think I crossed the paths of roughly 10,000 children during my career. I was indeed responsible for their souls, their education, and the education of their souls. That's my whole job. The souls of your children. And second grade math.
The Devil does exist, but unlike God, he is not everywhere all the time. And God is much stronger than the devil.
Here's my advice: Be on guard against the devil, because he is really, really trying to get your soul as soon as you are over age seven. Before that you don't have to worry about it. Your mom, your nun, your big brother, your God Parents will worry about that for you. Once you're over age seven, look out.
But don't spend all your time looking.
Spend your time looking for angels. You don't have to look far.
I'm sorry I can't keep my mouth shut. It's MY JOB not to keep my mouth shut.
But don't worry. Because the clergy is indeed responsible for your soul, they get punished the very worst in Purgatory for their failures, if they make it that far. I'm sure this also extends to 'so called clegy". And I've always believed that nuns who fall short are on stools at their feet in the fiery pits. That should put your mind at ease.
Unless you're a parent. You'll be on the next rung up.