Prayers Mix With Lesson Plans at Nolan Catholic High School - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Beyond Belief: Faith in Texas

Beyond Belief: Faith in Texas

An NBC 5 series exploring the many faiths in Texas

Prayers Mix With Lesson Plans at Nolan Catholic High School



    Many Private Schools Focus on Faith

    Religion has been taught in Texas schools for hundreds of years, ever since the first Catholic mission school opened near the Oklahoma border. (Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017)

    Prayer is a part of every school day at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth.

    "Prayer is allowed and encouraged," said Nolan's world religions teacher, Brian Kohler. "At Nolan, we have an opportunity for the student to recognize that their spirituality is an important part of their existence."

    Every class at Nolan begins with prayer and faith is woven into every lesson.

    "Theology, when we are allowed to introduce it and even keep it as part of our cross curriculum, we're able to make it an experience where they start to ask the why, or the why not, and questioning their place in the universe, what's my purpose in life," saids Kohler.

    Most of the 875 students who attend Nolan are Catholic, but there are also Episcopalians, Methodists, and Lutherans.

    "We believe that all children are capable of greatness because they are created in the image and likeness of God," said Nolan's President Erin Vader, a Nolan graduate herself.

    "Kids are taught that they matter, that what they do has impact in the world, that they are accountable to more than just themselves," saids Vader. "And that there is always something larger, God, that is there to support them, and for them to do everything they can to be in service of."

    "At any other school, it's easy to get lost, you feel like maybe you're just another number you have to take test," said Nolan Senior Raquel Garcia. "But going to a religious school makes you feel like you matter, like people care about you."

    Even the school's award winning robotics team begins class with heads bowed, reciting their own engineering prayer.

    "We talk about creating and that making us more human," said Moderator Dr. Robert Scheer. "Most creations that we make are meant to help all people and we focus on making ethical decisions."

    "Other schools may have different team members but they work separately, like they have different things in common," said team member Christina Cross. "But since we have our faith that's all in common, we can all relate."

    Each Thursday, Nolan students attend Catholic mass in the school auditorium.

    "It really like lets you separate from the stress of like tests and quizzes and studying, and focus on what's really important," said freshman Charlie Kiehlbauch. "And that's to focus on god and growing in your faith."

    The school's focus on faith provides students a spiritual foundation for their education.

    "I think it provides a hierarchy of values," said Bishop Michael F. Olson, of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. "I think it provides an understanding of each science being judged on its own merit, each particular field of education being able to contribute to the whole body of knowledge which we call the truth."

    In fact, students tackle some tough subjects, including evolution taught in science class.

    "Our premise is that god is the one who planned evolution," said Vader."It's all part of his plan for the earth, for his love of creation."

    "It always comes back to doing the most with what god gives you, so that you can go out and change the world" says Vader.

    All of the students at Nolan Catholic High School graduate, and 99 percent of them go onto to college.

    More than half of last year's graduates received scholarships.

    Tuition runs $14,000 a year, and financial assistance is available.

    Religion has been taught in Texas schools for nearly 500 years, ever since the first Catholic mission school opened near the Oklahoma border.

    Now, there are more than 1,800 private schools in Texas, and according to the group Texas Private Schools about two thirds of them, more than 1,100 hundred, are religiously affiliated.

    The most common faith based schools in Texas are Christian and Roman Catholic.

    According to the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic schools in America have graduation rates of 99 percent compared to 82 percent in public schools.

    Get the latest from NBC DFW anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android