“Once religion sinks in, it stays there—deep down. The lads who get religious training, get it where it counts—in the roots. They may fail it, but it never fails them.” George Herman Ruth Jr. uttered those words in 1946, two years before he died. Babe was a product of a Catholic education. He was raised a Catholic and attended St. Mary's College. It was actually at that Catholic school that a teacher, Brother Mathias Boutlier, encouraged the boy to play baseball.
Today is the start of Catholic Schools Week, a week in which we recognize and celebrate Catholic education. Catholic schools seek to foster not just an intelligent student, but a well-rounded, healthy and virtuous student. A Catholic education is about formation, in my mind. This formation provides for the child's academic, emotional, moral, artistic, athletic, and, ultimately, spiritual needs. A boy or girl will graduate from a Catholic school not merely with intelligence, but with goodness. Instilling goodness is an intangible element of a Catholic education, and one reason why parents make the financial sacrifice to place their child in the Church's hands. A school's priests, principal, and teachers are committed to the child's goodness. Catholic teachers are not in the profession for money—we all know how little they make! They care deeply about the children in the halls of the building and are committed to the child's excellence.
Babe Ruth recognized all this. His teachers cared about him and he learned excellence. Sure, the Great Bambino was far from perfect. He had his vices. But he was a charitable man. He even attended Mass on Sunday morning, and died a practicing Catholic. Catholic education never failed the greatest player in baseball history.