My Catholic School Identity Crisis

at 10:43 PM
Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

 (Sarah Coduto)

I still distinctly remember the day when my 8th grade teacher threatened me with detention for refusing to pray. She, along with two other administrators at my conservative Catholic elementary school, pulled me aside during morning Mass to chastise my faithlessness and administer swift punishment - a one-two approach that any parochial school student young or old will remember all too well.

I am a product of my upbringing; less a young woman than a patchwork quilt of liberal ideas I absorbed from watching MSNBC as a 10-year-old and experiencing an education that has woven Christian beliefs about the dignity of the human spirit into every subject but math class. My teachers taught me to accept Church doctrine without question. My parents, fierce Democrats, told me to believe none of it. But no one ever told me that there could be a middle way.

I couldn't hang with liberals. They got unnerved by any reference to the Bible or Jesus. Catholics thought I was a sinner beyond hope because I supported the right to choose and same-sex marriage. For years I floated in a twisted limbo between antipodes  -  two extremes that had no hope of reconciliation. One day over tea, a neighbor once asked me, "Have you ever considered the thought that you're just not the type who is going to fit in?"

As I got older, I fell into an uneasy peace and a way to reconcile my two lives. School was school and home was home. As long as the two didn't mix, I could function without an identity crisis.

My plan fell in on itself just days ago when San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone rewrote the archdiocese teacher handbook. If accepted by the union, teachers cannot be openly gay, cannot live together before marriage, and must refer to themselves as "ministers." Quoting Catechism, Cordileone even referred to certain lifestyles as "gravely evil" - two words that clash with every liberal notion in my body.


Upon hearing the news, my obligation became obvious, and in early February, I began to publicly protest the handbook. Then, something glorious happened. Standing in the rain before St. Mary's Cathedral, clutching a sign that read the words, "Hate doesn't belong in our schools," I realized that my two lives, for the first time in twelve years, had perfectly come together. In protesting what I felt didn't belong, I finally, miraculously, found where I belonged.

With a Perspective, I'm Sarah Coduto.

Sarah Coduto is a senior at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield. She is an aspiring journalist and writer.