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Sun Dec 21, 2014, 04:05 PM


Growing up Catholic: Childhood memories that last a lifetime

6 hours ago • JACKIE HOGGINS

Parents once believed it was the job of Catholic school nuns to "teach their child about religion." Catholic scholar Robert Orsi said sisters “provided an indelible religious foundation and helped transform Catholics into one of the most educated, most successful segments of American society.”

Orsi, who holds the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, focuses his research on Catholic children between 1925 and 1975. Catholic children, especially those taught in Catholic schools, tended to be disciplined and extremely well-versed in their faith. The seven sacraments were essential, and children must understand complex theological concepts at an early age.

Today, those long-ago children are adults. Often, they like to emphasize the distance they have traveled, intellectually and spiritually, since they memorized the questions and answers of their little catechisms. Still, they received a priceless gift. Thanks to adults who taught them their faith, Orsi said, “the world made sense.”

I was baptized Catholic. My first memories of mass are being left behind in the pew during communion. My sister and I offered each other Necco wafers while the adults were kneeling at the altar. We'd cup our hands, bow our heads and pretend to say something solemn.



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