Non-Catholics at Catholic

Catholic High School for Boys. “Catholic” is even in the name of the school. Does that mean that all of the faculty have to be Catholic? Does that mean that all of the faculty have to agree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church? 

Not all of the teachers at the school are Catholic. Whether a teacher is Catholic or any other denomination of Christian, it does not stop them from teaching to the best of their ability. Two of these teachers even teach certain religion courses to the students.

Mr. Dylan Owen teaches English I, English III, and Composition, but he also teaches about the history of the Church in a sophomore religion course. He considers himself non-denominational, but this does not change his thoughts on teaching at a Catholic school. “It just feels like I am at school,” he says. “I do not step in here and think, ‘Oh, I’m an outsider because I am not Catholic.’”

Mr. Owen’s background as an alumnus helps him to feel more comfortable in the Catholic High School setting. He said, “The Mass, the prayers, all of the other things I have heard numerous times, four years as a student, seven years as a teacher, and growing up in an Episcopal church. So, I don’t feel like an outsider.”

Mr. Richard Cochran teaches English III, English IV, Themes of Literature, and teaches about world religions in his sophomore religion course. He is not Catholic, but that does not stop him from teaching the way he wants to. “I think the great thing about this school is that there is not any pressure to modify my language or anything like that. I can just teach the concepts that I was hired to teach.”

Mr. Cochran does not feel pressured to teach any certain way about the religious standpoints of topics. “I teach world religions, so it is not like I am teaching the sacraments or the dogma,” he said. “So, I am teaching through a neutral lens, but I tell my students that if they want to see how Roman Catholicism views Buddhism or Islam, we can look at it that way.”

These teachers may not be Catholic, but they have tremendous respect for the faith. Mr. Owen said, “I enjoy being in church, whether that’s Mass, church on Sundays at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church as a kid, and now church on Sundays at Fellowship Baptist. I enjoy knowing that I am entering a room that God is in. I enjoy learning and listening. It feels neat to be in worship with fellow coaches, teachers, and students. We all hear the same message. We all recite the same prayers. We all hear the same sermon.”

Mr. Cochran’s love for the faith has grown over the years. He said, “I have tremendous respect for the Catholic faith. I respect this as an institution. I have given my whole adult life to it and also to the Church. I feel like I am speaking for the Church. It is joyous, comforting, and encouraging to be part of the Mass. I have no hangups or anything about it.”

Even though Mr. Cochran respects the Catholic faith, he still likes to act as a pathway for the students to feel more comfortable in the school. “I see it as I help usher in the ones who aren’t Catholic,” he said. “I want them to see it as, ‘Oh, there’s a guy who went to school here at Catholic High and was a public school kid who attended the Methodist church from time to time.’ I want to be this conduit for people who aren’t Catholic. I always want to make students feel love and inclusion regardless of their faith system.” 

As he brings the non-Catholic students closer to the school and to God, Mr. Cochran is also on his own faith journey. He said, “I see myself almost as a champion of the Catholic faith in my mind. I feel like I speak very well of it. I always make sure that I do. I entertain the idea of becoming Catholic myself. That is something that I pray about because it is such a huge step. It is something I talk to Father [Patrick Friend] about. It is something, that since I have such tremendous respect for, there is a good chance that I will hopefully become [Catholic].”

There is another teacher at the school who started as a non-Catholic and has since converted to Catholicism during his time teaching. Mr. Matt Golladay is the band director and teacher of Music/Art Survey to juniors. He started teaching in 2016 and converted to Catholicism in October 2020. 

Mr. Golladay admitted that his religious life has been bumpy.  He said, “I struggle with the whole ‘God speaks to you’ idea. But certain things are hard to deny. Maybe it is not a voice that I’m hearing, but circumstances in my life have led me to this place where I am now. Even though I don’t hear God’s voice telling me, ‘This is where I want you to go,’ but here I am. I can’t deny the place that I’ve been put.”

Mr. Golladay loves where he is, and where God led him. “Never in a million years, when I was in my teens, twenties, or even my early thirties did I imagine that I would be teaching in a religious school, much less a Catholic school. And here I am, and I’m enjoying it. The environment is great, the people are great, and the people I get to work with are great. So, I think the school might have influenced the decision [to convert to Catholicism], but I do not know if it was a direct influence or if my eyes were opened to what was already there.” 

Mr. Golladay gives advice to his students and to all people lost in a new place where others could see them as different. “Find your mission. What are you supposed to be doing? If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, ask God. ‘Did God put me here because this is where He wanted me? Was God leading me in this direction?’”

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