By: Deacon Marques Silva
My sister Iwalani and I happily graduated from Paul VI High School (PVI), classes of 1989 and 1991 respectively. We both attended public school until middle school and then entered into Catholic school education. But it was not until I started my diaconal formation in 2006 that I finally recognized the enormous impact those four years in high school had on my life and spirituality.
Paul VI provided me a great education, although I admit that I took my teachers for granted while I attended. However, it was the additional Catholic formation that influenced my life and eventually provided a foundation that helped me answer the Lord’s call to pursue a vocation as a permanent deacon. I discovered during my diaconal formation that my practical and pragmatic approach to family life, work, and play was uniquely Salesian, which is the Catholic spiritual tradition at the heart of PVI.
In fact, even my methodology of discernment which assisted me in recognizing both my vocation to the permanent diaconate and marriage was heavily influenced by the thought and praxis of St. Francis de Sales. This Salesian approach taught me the power of doing little, ordinary, and everyday good things for the Father with great passion and love. It taught me that holiness is wholeness and that the everyday “rustic” and natural virtues of good manners, good work ethic and embracing family life is living the ascetical life which is a way of holiness and wholeness.
I didn’t go to classes to learn this practical spirituality even though PVI did offer classes in Salesian spirituality. The faith was more “caught” than “taught.” There was an intentional effort to live the faith by the staff and to integrate virtue and practical Christian living into the class’ subject matter. Most importantly, it was one teacher in particular who challenged me to embrace the Gospel and assisted in facilitating a deep life conversion that catapulted my life of prayer, pursuit of virtue, and desire to remain connected with the Church – even after graduation.
The experience I had with my Catholic education was very positive albeit not perfect. I do not have any of those crazy Sr. Mary of the Penitential Ruler stories that we hear so often. As with every experience in life that deals with people, it too had to deal with the human condition. At the end of the day, I must credit my ability to discern my vocations to the Oblates of St. Francis deSales and the education they provided me at PVI.
Happy Discovering Catholic Schools Week Paul VI High School!