What Gives Me Joy

This post is the first of a series of posts during Catholic Schools Week.

By: Sr. Bernadette McManigal, B.V.M., Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Monday, a day many of us return to work after a (sometimes) restful weekend, a day we sometimes view with little enthusiasm…inevitably comes.

But each day, as a Catholic school superintendent here in the Diocese of Arlington, I think of the many people and events that bring me joy. The people who share this ministry with me make Mondays a time of renewal and enthusiasm.


On Monday mornings, I recall the time I spoke to a happy fourth-grade girl. Later, her teacher told me about the difficult time she was having at home. Her parents work hard, but have difficulty providing for her, so life is a struggle. The teacher told me that her happiest hours are when she is in school. She comes to school with joy, and the teachers meet her joy by helping make her day, and that of other students, a happy one.

On Monday mornings, I think of the time when a high school student shared with me his dreams of becoming a scientist. He told me of his hopes of how the foundation he has received in ethical formation will help him become a strong leader. This student credited his ambition and character to the strong example of his teachers, along with that of his parents.

On Monday mornings, I picture Vicki Coyle, 2013 Teacher of the Year, walking to her library with a smile and light step as she prepares to engage her students in literature, while assisting them also in picking out the right book to challenge, to encourage, to delight….

“Even after all the years I have been a principal, I can’t wait to get to school in the morning,” Mary Pat Schlickenmaier, 2014 Principal of the Year, articulates a sentiment she fully lives each day. She makes my Mondays more than manageable.

At our Catholic schools we have the opportunity to pray together, to live the joy of the Gospel together. A third-grade child — who transferred from a Catholic school to a public school and after a few days, returned to his Catholic school — once told me: “They don’t pray in school. I don’t know where they get their spirit for the day.”

These people, as well as others, bring me joy. As superintendent, not every Monday is rosy, but every Monday can be a day of Gospel joy.

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