From the first time I entered Chaminade Julienne High School, I knew it was a special place. On my first visit, I had an opportunity to meet with students who are recipients of the Marianist Scholarship. We had lunch together with other vowed Marianist religious in the school library. I learned about their extracurricular activities, their favorite classes and why they enjoy being a Chaminade Julienne Eagle. They spoke with maturity, good humor, honesty, and respect for the school. I have to admit, I was impressed.
I had a second opportunity to visit and was blessed to speak to each freshman religion class with Bro. Sean Downing, SM (former religion teacher at CJ) and Bro. John Habjan, SM (former administrator at CJ). We spoke with the classes about our Marianist history and charism. Again, I was impressed with the students, but also with the faculty in the religion department. I thought to myself, “I would enjoy working with these people and with the students here.”
Now, here I am back in a high school ministry situation after a seven-year hiatus from teaching during which I worked as a campus minister with college students. Many things are different for me this time around. For one, it has taken me a while to get used to all the technological advances that have happened in teaching and the lives of teenagers since 2004. Previously, I used an overhead projector and transparencies for my classes, took attendance on small slips of paper, and read the announcements out loud to my homeroom. Those days have gone the way of VCRs and cassette tapes.
A second difference is the diverse student population that comprises the CJ community. The last school in which I taught was Central Catholic Marianist High School in San Antonio — an all-boys school. That is perhaps the most obvious difference, but the differences are many. I see the diversity of CJ as one of its greatest gifts. It seems to be a sort of microcosm of our country and that is helpful for maturing students and faculty and staff as well. Lastly, I am different since I left Central Catholic. In the seven years that have transpired, I have become a Marianist Sister.
As a Marianist Sister working in a Marianist and Sisters of Notre Dame school, one might expect that I would bring a certain perspective to the school. Perhaps I do. However, I find that the Marianist and Notre Dame charisms are embodied in the faculty, staff and culture of the school in such a way that my presence does not change or increase it, but supports it. It is a grace for me to work here, and I hope to support the mission of Chaminade Julienne for years to come.
Written by Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI, and first published in the fall 2011 issue of Vision, CJ's alumni news magazine.