Once students, now staff members

Alums feel ‘at home’ working in former schools

When Katie Weaver started teaching third grade at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, one of the strangest adjustments she had to make was her interactions with fellow staff members.

“The craziest part was being able to look at them and to have to use their first name,” she said. “They’re like, ‘You don’t have to say “Mrs.” anymore. You can just call me by my first name.’ It took me the first month to be like, ‘Are you sure?’”

Weaver’s hesitation stems from her history with the school — she attended it as a student from kindergarten through eighth grade and finds herself working alongside a few teachers who were there when she was a kid.

“Some of them are still here now as I’m teaching, and they were fantastic growing up,” she said. “They supported us through everything with our faith, with whatever was going on at home. They were a great lifeline here at school.”

Katie Weaver is a former student of and teacher at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. (Photos provided)

Now, Weaver is the provider of that support — and she does so in the very classroom she was taught in as a child.

“On the first day of school, I put up a photo of me in this classroom,” she said. “It looks just like me but I’m in a uniform. [The students] thought it was funny.”

Weaver isn’t the only faculty member working at her former school. The archdiocese has several alums who were drawn back to their alma mater for one reason or another, including Kate Kelly, Assistant Principal at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy.

Kelly’s ties to the school go back decades, as she and her mom both attended St. Rose, and now she has two children of her own in the school.

“We’ve pretty much grown up here,” she said.

Kelly recalls times during the 1990s when the school was almost closed down but the community’s perseverance kept it going.

“The principal at the time fought to keep it open and did everything she could,” said Kelly. “I think having that example of community and that we don’t give up has helped to shape who I am as an educator today.”

Kelly hadn’t originally planned on teaching at St. Rose, or even a Catholic school for that matter. She decided to spread her wings after college and move to Las Vegas, where she taught at a public school for one year.

But she felt the school lacked something very important.

“I think having the experience of being in public school reminded me not only why I’m Catholic, but why I want to instill that in all of my own children and my students,” she said.

Kate Kelly is the Assistant Principal at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy. (Photos provided)

Kate Kelly in first grade at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy.

“Being in a community that cares about you and knowing that there’s a God that loves you and is here for you and wants what’s best for you is something that you can’t speak about in public schools. It’s part of the reason I’ve chosen to stay in Catholic education, because you can’t get that anywhere else.”

The time was right for Kelly to move back to Colorado, and with a few openings at St. Rose, she decided to go for it. This August, she will enter her 13th year working at the school.

With new additions and modern curriculum, St. Rose feels much different to Kelly — minus the uniforms and the “community feeling” surrounding the school. But she still finds herself having flashbacks to her time as a student.

“I find myself saying ‘Back in the day’ a lot,” she said with a laugh.

For Thomas McCarty, Assistant Athletic Director at Bishop Machebeuf High School, being back on his old stomping grounds feels natural.

“I really enjoyed my four years here,” he said. “It was great, the relationships I built that are life-lasting.

“There’s a lot of good memories that come back.”

Thomas McCarty is the Assistant Athletic Director at and former student of Bishop Machebeuf High School. (Photo provided)

McCarty is set to graduate from college this summer but was able to work at Bishop Machebeuf part time beginning last March and full time as of October. He’s grateful for the opportunity to help kids live out their passion for sports.

“I had the time of my life playing high school sports,” he said. “So if I could fulfill that passion again and be a part of it, that’s how I got into [this role].”

Having only graduated from the school a few years ago, role working with kids close to his age feels even more special.

“I think the kids like it because they have somebody young and fun to be around,” he said. “It’s fun to hang out with them and help them fulfill their dreams.”

Joe Harvey, P.E. Teacher at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, has deep ties to his place of work — his grandparents attended church at the parish, the gym is named after his late father, Jim, and Harvey’s mom and sister teach at the school, too.

At one point, five Harveys taught at Blessed Sacrament at the same time.

“For a lot of people, I think they see their grade school and want to get away from it,” said Harvey. “I just had such good experiences here and love the community so much that it was a no-brainer to come back here and be a part of the community again.”

Harvey is flooded with fond memories when he recalls his time as a grade school student.

Joe Harvey is a P.E. Teacher at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. (Photos provided)

“Being in a Catholic setting and small class sizes, you make really good friends and you get a really good moral base,” he said. “It’s just a tight-knit community.”

Like Kelly, Harvey initially had other plans for his life — he wanted to attend law school after completing college in Boston — but eventually felt pulled in another direction.

“I was trying to figure out what I was going to do,” he said. “I got into subbing at Blessed Sacrament and then fell in love with teaching.”

Working with kids seemed like the perfect fit.

“Their enthusiasm just rubs off on you,” he said. “It turned into something that I really wanted to do.”

Now, walking around the place where he grew up feels like home.

“I’ll pop into a fifth-grade room or a fourth-grade room, and I remember doing a biography project here or there,” he said. “It’s funny to go back in these classrooms and remember projects you did with certain teachers. It’s surreal and pretty cool to bring it full circle.”

And Harvey can’t help but laugh when his students realize he was once in their shoes.

“I think they’re kind of shocked by it,” he said. “I think they think I’m a lot older than I actually am.”

But just like his fellow alums working at their alma mater, Harvey is grateful to carry on a legacy at the school he has always loved.

“I wake up every day excited to go to work and be a part of this community,” he said.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash