Being a Nontheist in a Catholic School
by Joshua Villalobos
While state universities and colleges are still on the rise, it is an undeniable fact that when a student wants quality private education, the religious educational institutions are the “go tos”.
That’s why many of us nontheists, atheists, agnostics, who want access to advanced liberal education still enroll in catholic or Christian schools because there are very limited options for us to choose from.
It is also a given fact that enrolling in these institutions will compromise our beliefs and standpoints, but then again, due to a limited option of go-to schools, we opt to compromise.
Prayer vigils, monthly masses, recollections are some of the things we join to complete our “academic requirements”. Personally, I don’t hold this against schools, because it is part of the school’s religious orientation. As an agnostic atheist, every time we have these activities and I feel tired about it I just whisper to myself “I signed up for this.”
Most of the religious schools will let you sign a memorandum of understanding upon admission that you understand that they are a religious institution and that they have of course activities in line with their beliefs that you need to attend to.
Aside from the activities, some personal things you ought to do when you’re from a catholic school (actually even for public schools) are participating at 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock prayer and leading the class prayer. No big deal though, because as Filipinos we’ve been used to leading prayers, it has been a piece of cake to create an impromptu prayer.
Also, we’ve learned to adapt to the school’s ejaculatory prayer. Every school has a unique one. It’s different for Lasallians, Scholaticans, and Augustinians. It depends on the school’s patron saint.
Ejaculatory prayer, even the word has a different connotation, it is the prayer that we say after the actual prayer. The “St.Jean Baptist de La Salle, pray for us” or the “ My heart is restless until it rests in you, Oh God” and many others.
A piece of unsolicited advice that I could give to nontheists currently enrolled or planning to enroll in sectarian schools is to get the best education that you can have, just respect their ways of doing things as long as it is not oppressive, and don’t forget who you are.
You don’t need to fight their policies because in the first place you knew that they are a sectarian or religious organization upon signing up.
As humanists, armed with values of respect, dignity, and realized selves, it is very important that we apply these values everywhere we go, even in religious spaces. It just proves that we know who we are and we are not that easy to break.
It is not easy to be in an environment surrounded by things you don’t actually believe in but it is very important that you know how to filter things that you want to absorb and be part of your system as a human being.