How to spot a Catholic school graduate



Catholicism is becoming an alien concept in Australia, with Church attendance falling and the nation drifting further towards secularism. As long as Tony Abbott doesn’t get his way, the trend will likely continue. While I have no objections to this fleeting interest in religion, it’s becoming common for Catholic school students and graduates to receive raised eyebrows from their peers.

Take it from me, someone who went through 13 years of Catholic education and survived/graduated: We’re a perfectly normal bunch (brainwash camp is normal, right?) and it’s not like our parents let us choose which school we attended. In fact, we’re so affable that if you don’t have a Catholic school graduate as a friend, you need to find one ASAP, but that can be tough now that there are so few of us. But I can smell the Catholic on someone – as if they’re sweating holy water – and here are the main things to look for:

1. We’re non-religious
Mirroring politics’ unusual marriage of religion and state, pretty much everyone I know who is religious went to a state school. Many Catholic school graduates agree that religious education allowed them to make an informed decision not to be religious. So if you’re sitting in a cinema, wedged between two Catholic school graduates, chances are you’re the religious one. I assume it was all just a show of teenage rebellion, where the religious kids went to state schools and vice versa.

2. We’re critical of Christians but boy do we LOVE Buddhists
All Catholic school students are forced to take on at least one religious subject in their senior years, and Studies of Religion is popular because you get to focus on everything but Catholicism. Many of these classes end with a conversation about how much we like Buddhism. The scripture is like poetry, the people are easy-going – it’s like the religious version of the beat generation. What’s not to like?

3. We enjoy reciting obscure teachings
Did you know that Buddhists aren’t allowed to carry salt in a goat horn? Or that Muslims aren’t allowed to urinate in stagnant water? If nothing else, these teachings are incredibly specific, and with the world as obsessed with political correctness as it is, I’ve since replaced my goat horn with a moose’s. For Catholic school grads, these teachings are our in-jokes and an opportunity to poke fun at the religious institution that once resided over us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted Thich Nhat Hanh in conversation.

4. Christian rock is our guilty pleasure
It’s like boy bands – the lyrics don’t mean much to you and you know shouldn’t like it, but damn the songs are hella catchy. A good song is a good song. Some may call it offensive to sing lyrics we don’t agree with, but if we’re all happy to rap along with Tyler the Creator as he discusses stabbing Bruno Mars in the oesophagus, surely we can let this slide? (Note: Apparently not, because a joke video of my friends and I singing Jesus, Lover of my Soul that briefly did the rounds on MySpace resulted in mass condemnation from ‘actual’ Christians.)

Vincent Varney is a Sydney-based writer who, in secrecy, still carries salt in a goat horn. You can watch him buckle under the guilt by following him on Twitter @VincentVarney


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