Did you know that there are around 900 million Catholics in the world and that the population of the United States is 22.7% Catholic? That could help explain the fact that most of my friends growing up were Catholic or it could have been the fact that my family is Catholic, I went to a Catholic school, and went to CCD each Sunday. If you grew up Catholic in the 1960 or before, Growing Up Catholic will be a nice trip down memory lane. If you have Catholic friends or are married to one and want to understand them better, this may help.
I was born in the early sixties and just caught the end of the peak of a Catholic education. It was a unique and unforgettable experience. I personally spent 12 years in Catholic institutions plus around eight more attending catechism classes each Sunday. My story was a little different than most others in that I was brought up as a Byzantine Catholic. Yes we are Catholic! It is a more ritualistic faith and had fewer impacts from the changes in the Roman Catholic church. In fact when some of the major modernization efforts were started, many Roman Catholics switched to the Byzantine faith.
Most of the experiences that I can relate to center around attending Catholic grade school and later a Catholic high school. Many of the characters described in the book are real. Just the names have changed. There was paddling (our Principal actually had a small boat oar as her weapon of choice), there was praying, there were uniforms, and lots of singing and mass attending.
I hate to sound like one of those people who say things like “in my day things were different,” but I have to. The Catholic education of our day left an indelible mark on us. I recently reunited with a group of people who all attended the same grade school. It did not take long to share memories from those days and as we talked more and more memories flooded back. Reading Growing Up Catholic is a great way to guide you through your memories. You may want to get together with some friends and share your stories.
I have a friend who has the uncanny ability to identify post-nuns (nuns who are no longer nuns). This even includes women who were going to be nuns, but never finished their vows. According to to my friend and the book these women share some common characteristics:
- Low-healed shoes
- Impeccable posture
- Tasteful, low key makeup
- Closely cropped hair
- A serene smile
- Outfits that are less than two degrees away from an nuns official garb
It is often too easy and popular to bash Christians and Catholics in this day. I do think that it is fun to poke fun at ourselves in a good natured way and this book achieves that.