A Time to Speak — A view from the pew

By LISA ROHLEDER

I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have been raised in a home with two of the most devout Catholics that I’ve ever known, my parents.

The central focus of our upbringing was our faith and the church.

The greatest gift my parents ever gave me, other than my siblings, was my Catholic education. They made countless sacrifices to send all 14 of their children to Catholic grade schools and high schools. Not an easy feat to say the least, but they valued Catholic education and worked tirelessly to make it come to fruition for all of us. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

I’ve known since I was in second grade at St. Stephen Martyr School that I was going to become a Catholic school teacher. I adored my teacher and loved how she freely shared her faith with us. It was the year that I felt one with God through the sacrament of the Eucharist. As my childhood years continued, so did my desire to become a teacher.

Upon completion of my educational studies, I was offered a position as a second-grade teacher at my former grade school. I was thrilled to be teaching in the exact same classroom that I attended as a second grader. I will never forget my first day of teaching as I prayed, “Be with me, Holy Spirit.” He’s been with me ever since.

At the beginning of each school year, I tell my students that my number one job is to help them grow in their relationship with God. While language arts, math, science and social studies are indeed important, nothing is more important than helping to lay a solid foundation of faith in these young children. I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity.

Today, I’m blessed to teach second grade at St. Gabriel School. With this position, I teach the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist. Of everything that I teach my students, teaching the sacraments is my favorite. My students and I attend eucharistic adoration every Monday. We discuss the significance of the Eucharist and its role in our lives as Catholics. The students are reverent and prayerful during our time in adoration.

I attend weekly Mass with my students. Many times when we are there, I will close my eyes and think to myself, “How in the world did I get so lucky to have this job?” Quite a few people tried to steer me away from studying education in college, reminding me that the pay isn’t ideal. I found myself defending my decision by telling them that I loved children and knew that this is what God was calling me to do. I am grateful that I listened to my heart.

As in any job, there have been times through the years that I’ve questioned my abilities to be a great teacher. Whenever I begin doubting myself, it never fails; I get a sweet note of appreciation from a student or parent. The Holy Spirit is working through them to remind me that I am right where I need to be.

As I am getting older, I reflect on how much longer I will teach. Perhaps the time will come when my passion will wane. But for now, I will continue to do what I love. I welcome students into my classroom and into my heart. I will carry on the legacy of my parents in espousing that our Catholic faith is an integral part of who we are, and there is nothing quite like a Catholic education. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Lisa Rohleder is a parishioner of St. Gabriel Church.

In this column, “A View from the Pew,” writers are invited to share their personal experiences and observations as Catholics. We would love to hear about your “view from the pew.”

Please send articles to Sal Della Bella, sdellabella@archlou.org, or 212 East College Street, PO Box 1073 Louisville, Ky., 40201, along with your name, parish, contact information and a digital photo, if possible. (For photos, a headshot is preferred.)

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