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Happy Catholic Youth: “We Feared the Sisters” I wish more of today’s children could experience the memorable upbringing I enjoyed growing up in a Catholic family, the American columnist Tom Purcell …More
Happy Catholic Youth: “We Feared the Sisters”

I wish more of today’s children
could experience the memorable upbringing I enjoyed growing up in a Catholic family, the American columnist Tom Purcell wrote on Omaha World-Herald. Growing up Catholic in the 1970s meant going to a Catholic school. It was not like in today’s schools, in which some teachers fear their students. Quote, “We students of St. Germaine Catholic School feared the sisters.”

The sisters ran their classrooms in a structured, orderly manner. They took guff from no kid. The floors were so clean, you could eat off of them. The blackboards had a brighter sheen than a Cadillac fender, Purcell remembers, “Our desks, which were subject to frequent and unannounced inspections, were expected to be organized at all times.”

Purcell stresses that “our precious egos, fragile feelings and self-esteem were not part of the Church’s teaching plan.” He explains: “Either we got with the sisters’ program or we got into big trouble.” There was no daydreaming, talking, joking or doodling. Anything short of excellence was grounds for severe punishment, which included everything from a call home to mom to a whack on the hand from Sister Mary Brass Knuckle’s ruler.

The sisters taught to embrace the virtues — prudence, temperance and courage — and to fend off the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. They also worked hard to teach the pupils the basic skills necessary for thriving as an adult: math, science, reading and writing. Purcel knows this approach to education is considered outdated and quasi-barbaric today. However, half a century later he can still see the value and order that religion has imparted on the United States throughout their history. And the old St. Germaine pals still have a lot of laughs when they swap stories about their close encounters with Sister Mary Brass Knuckles' dreaded ruler.
Ultraviolet
Half a century clouds Mr. Purcell's memory. Some of his claims are insane... "The floors were so clean, you could eat off of them. The blackboards had a brighter sheen than a Cadillac fender"

A classroom with a dozen children tramping through it every day had sanitary, food-safe floors? As Mr. Purcell "remembers" it , the nuns didn't write anything on the blackboard! That would make the board…More
Half a century clouds Mr. Purcell's memory. Some of his claims are insane... "The floors were so clean, you could eat off of them. The blackboards had a brighter sheen than a Cadillac fender"

A classroom with a dozen children tramping through it every day had sanitary, food-safe floors? As Mr. Purcell "remembers" it , the nuns didn't write anything on the blackboard! That would make the boards dusty and cloudy with chalk. But Mr. Purcell insists they "had a brighter sheen than a Cadillac fender."

"There was no daydreaming, talking, joking or doodling."


...because Sister can read minds, amirite? She also could see every paper on every desk at all times, amirite?

...in Mr. Purcell's "remembered" classes, perhaps. :P In every class I've ever had, the instructor (nun or not) used the blackboards to teach their students instead of spending all day terrorizing them to the point where they won't even think.

"They (the nuns) also worked hard to teach the pupils the basic skills necessary for thriving as an adult: math, science, reading and writing."

...but not by ever chalking up those perfectly polished Cadillac fender black-boards. :That must have been quite a feat. ;-)
Orthocat
I dunno, the author looks kinda young to have really experienced what he writes about. I grew up in the same area of the country. I'm nearly 60 and the 'habited nun' was already an endangered species by the 1970s. Our parish only had one sister who dressed in lay clothes. And she did liturgy stuff. Religious education was handled by parents & volunteers. Seems like the writer's just repeating a …More
I dunno, the author looks kinda young to have really experienced what he writes about. I grew up in the same area of the country. I'm nearly 60 and the 'habited nun' was already an endangered species by the 1970s. Our parish only had one sister who dressed in lay clothes. And she did liturgy stuff. Religious education was handled by parents & volunteers. Seems like the writer's just repeating a lot of tropes & stereotypes about those "mean sisters" and how he 'survived' their cruel discipline.