Nuns, plaid skirts, paying a dollar for “casual days” and praying that you’ll get to shake your crush’s hand during the Sign of Peace during morning Mass—Catholic school is a unique experience.

 With Fairfield being a Catholic school, many of us grew up in this kind of environment, yet many of us didn’t. Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic school experience is more than its misconceptions. 

Cinematic portrayals can remind us that beneath the preppy uniforms and the “God loves us for free” posters from opposing sport teams, we can be taught so much about the human experience and what it’s like growing up in a world centered around faith. 

Here are four pieces of cinema that exemplify the Catholic school experience: 

“If you’re feeling anxious, or if you just want to chat, please please do not come crying to me” -Sister Michael

(Photo courtesy of @ladbibleireland Instagram)

Set in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, Derry Girls combines candid humor and historical turmoil following the lives of four Catholic teenage girls and one Protestant English boy at Our Lady Immaculate College, a small Catholic all-girls high school run by sarcastic nun Sister Michael. The friends navigate teen angst, family drama and the occasional military checkpoint. Though a light-hearted comedy, Derry Girls never dismisses the hardships faced in Ireland at the time. It’s absurd, sweet and no matter what background you come from, there is no doubt this three-season series is hilarious. 

(Photo courtesy of @ladybirdmovie Instagram)

Lady Bird is like a confessional booth turned comedy stage, where strong-willed, introspective and often oblivious Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson navigates her senior year at Immaculate Heart. Director Greta Gerwig succeeds in creating a loving portrait of the Catholic school experience through sporadic skirt checks, snacking on (unconsecrated) communion wafers, cool priests and nuns, and leaving room for the Holy Spirit at school dances. 

“I thought I was gonna go to Hell for rewinding Titanic back to the sex scene… three times.” – Alice

(Photo courtesy of @yesgodyesfilm Instagram)

Yes, God, Yes hilariously navigates the awkward and relatable journey of Alice, a Catholic school girl discovering her sexuality amidst the backdrop of a religious retreat. From accidentally stumbling upon online chat rooms to awkward encounters with overly enthusiastic peers, Alice’s quest for understanding is a chaotic ride through the trials and tribulations of teenage curiosity. With a witty script and charming performance by Natalia Dyer, the film delicately balances humor with heartfelt moments, proving that even in the holiest of places, temptation and laughter go hand in hand.

Paul Hunham: “He was a great kid, I had him one semester. Very insightful.”

Mary Lamb: “Mmhmm. He hated you.”

Paul Hunham: “Well, uh, like I said… sharp kid – insightful.”

(Photo courtesy of @filmpostcards Instagram)

While not explicitly set in a Catholic school, this recently Oscar-nominated film, The Holdovers, depicts the tale of Paul Hunham, a teacher at a prestigious New England all-boys private school– tasked to look after Angus Tully, the only student left at school during winter break. Through the friendship of Paul, Angus and Head Cook Mary Lamb, the film explores themes of grief, loneliness and the power of human connection. The school, Barton Academy, is a Christian institution with mandatory end-of-semester chapel service where the pastor asks the boys to “pray for those less fortunate than we.” The film feels nostalgic and warm, it is definitely worth the watch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *