Like many churches here in the Diocese of Buffalo, the parish and school which I grew up in will be closing this month. Though I haven't been a member of that parish for about 8 years, attending the more ancient and traditional style Catholic liturgy at another parish within the Diocese, it was still nice to know that my home parish of St. Joe's was alive and well.
I have such great memories of growing up at St. Joseph's, especially in the school. I attended St. Joe's school from Kindergarten through 5th grade, then moving to Ascension campus (the Catholics schools in North Tonawanda consolidated in 1990) for 6th through 8th. I had some wonderful teachers at St. Joseph's, most notably the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, who were (and are) wonderful women, some of whom I am still in contact with today. The teachers we had at St. Joe's were mostly older teachers who had been working at St. Joe's for a good number of years, and were not in the field for the money, but for the love of children, and the love of teaching. Many of these teachers retired after the schools merged in 1990 or soon after, and I was one of a fortunate few to come under their tutelage before their retirement.
It was because of teachers and the good sisters that I knew growing up that I think I was inspired to be a teacher. I want to make a difference in children's lives like they did with mine. I know from experience how much of an impact a good teacher or a bad teacher can make in one's life, and I hope to be making a positive difference for many students.
Today St. Joe's was having a sale at the school to get rid of the old desks and cabinets that had been part of the classrooms since it opened in 1947. I almost bought one of the student desks since there was a good chance I had sat in them as a student. Mostly, I just wanted to go and walk around the school one last time. So many wonderful memories came flooding back, of going to school, and later being a teacher in those classrooms as I taught Religious Ed. there for five years. Even now, when I dream of having my own classroom in my professional career, I still think of myself in front of a class in one of those classrooms at St. Joe's.
Not all change is a good thing, and sometimes it can be hard to take. It hasn't been easy for me, or for many of the parishioners of St. Joseph's to say goodbye to a place they have called home, and have worshiped in for so many years. Like I have done already, the people at St. Joe's will find new homes of worship, but it's still hard to say goodbye to a place that has been such a refuge for so many years. "For everything there is a season..."