Archbishop McNicholas High School was founded as the first co-ed Catholic school in 1951 by the sisters of St. Joseph. The curriculum is centered on Catholic tradition, but over the years many students from other religions, Lutherans to Methodists to non-denominational Christians, have joined the faith community of McNicholas.
Sophomore Kristen Van Huss is a member of the liturgy choir. Kristen is a non-denominational Christian and has been going to Catholic school since third grade. “I went to a Catholic grade school, and the reason I went there was because my mom had a teaching job at the school. It just kind of flowed into McNick,” she said. While she doesn’t go up for communion during mass she does “enjoy the worship part and the homilies.” In thinking of the differences between Protestant and Catholic beliefs, Van Huss said, “We go off of the scripture, rather than the whole scripture and tradition…We don’t have as many Sacraments, we just have Baptism and Eucharist.” In addition to Liturgy Choir, Van Huss also participates in marching band and theatre.
Another student who isn’t a member of the Catholic church is freshman Luke Horstmeyer. He is Methodist but felt that McNick would be a good fit for him. “I’ve always gone to a Catholic school and it’s never really been a problem. [McNicholas] seemed like a good fit for me,” he said. While Horstmeyer cannot receive communion, he does receive a blessing, “It’s good to be there with community, and it’s not that different.” Horstmeyer said the differences were few but added, “We don’t hold saints in that high of a regard,” and the church services are less “formal.”
Like Van Huss and Horstmeyer, I am not a Catholic, and I love being at McNick. I chose to go here because of the community and how welcoming it felt to be here. I cannot participate in mass, but I still enjoy the music and the homilies.
While McNicholas is a Catholic high school, it is a testament to how welcoming the community is, that there are students who do not belong in the Catholic church, but are happy at McNick.