Teachable Moments

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banners_habemus-papa-Perugino-ENI was so bummed on Wednesday, March 13th (the day we got our new Holy Father). I was enjoying my “break” in the afternoon in front of my computer. Suddenly, I saw the announcement about white smoke flash across my screen. I quickly went to ewtn.com to watch their live stream. I was absolutely loving the anticipation while enjoying the nervous banter and laughter of the commentators. I couldn’t wait to see history!

And then, it was time to leave. My break was over, and I had to wake up two sleeping children to go pick up two other children at school (after convincing my 5-year-old to shut off his cartoon!). I was going to miss the moment! Ugh…

It happened again in the parking lot of the second school. They were about to make the announcement on the radio as the lights on the balcony had just come on. I couldn’t wait to hear history! And then, it was 3:15 and my child was waiting for me and I had to turn off the engine! Ugh…

By the time I came out of the school, the announcement had been made. I heard the news from other moms in the parking lot. I hadn’t heard the announcement live as I had wanted. But, I felt such joy as I shared the news with my children about our new Pope Francis. It was so cool to know that I was sharing this emotion with Catholics from all over the world. And, thankfully, EWTN showed the entire event again later that evening. 🙂

It brought back so many memories of 8 years ago when Pope Benedict was chosen. I was born in 1975, so Pope John II was the only Pope that I had ever known. I was SO excited when we got the news of white smoke. At the time, I was teaching at a Catholic high school outside of Washington, D.C. There was an announcement over the loud speaker that we were invited to bring our classes down to the library to watch the news coverage. I got my class down there as fast as I could! The whole school was packed into the library.

I have so many fond memories of my years at this school. I am still in touch with a handful of fellow teachers, and occasionally, students will surprise me by updating me on their lives (love that!).

My biggest complaint about this school (and I can only hope that it has changed…I’m very far removed from it right now) is that, in my opinion, it was Catholic in name only. I didn’t realize this when I took the job (I just wanted to teach in a Catholic school in the same city as my boyfriend/now husband!).

I could give many examples of ways that this school fell short of what it should have been, but I won’t (because I could also give countless examples of the amazing people who dedicate their lives to reaching and teaching teenagers there). I will only say that when Pope Benedict came out onto that balcony, I was one of the only visibly happy people in the library. I did not know too much about Cardinal Ratzinger, but I knew enough to be joyful for myself and for the whole Church.

After the reveal on that day in April, 2005, the TV was quickly turned off. There were a few faculty who shared their negative opinions vocally…and one (a very popular theology teacher) who even stormed out of the room in disgust. I was shocked and SO sad…our impressionable students were watching this!!!!

When I got my class back to our room, it was time for dismissal. I knew that I didn’t have much time and that I could only tell these 22 or so students what I wanted to say (not the whole student body). So, I just spoke from my heart. I told them that I was so happy, and that this was wonderful news…that we should rejoice with our new Holy Father! The atmosphere in the library had been so poisonous. I just wanted to erase it from their (and my) minds forever.

I don’t know what those students remember from that day. Honestly, I hope it wasn’t as bad as I just described! I can only hope that my positive words or smile might have impacted someone or at least planted a seed. I left this school a year later because we moved away. I didn’t teach theology, but I prayed with my students daily and I tried to incorporate the Catholic faith into all of my lessons and stories.

What I do know is that I really wanted the election of Pope Francis to be a great memory for my children and me. Although my 3, 2, and 1-year-old’s will not remember it, I am hopeful that my older two might. After all, it was the day that I/we *almost* saw and heard history in the making!

Thank you, Holy Spirit! God Bless Pope Francis!

Copyright 2013 Trish Bolster

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About Author

Trish Bolster grew up in Massachusetts but now calls Harrisburg, PA home. After a few years of infertility, she and her husband Ryan have been abundantly blessed with 6 children in 7 years! Her Seasons blog chronicles her crazy yet wonderful journey as she attempts to raise up saints! Visit it at seasons-circleoflife.blogspot.com.

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