Catholic education important enough for Hix family to endure separation

Catholic education is important enough for Hix family to endure a lengthy separation. Pictured are Ligia, Oliver and Michiel Hix. (Provided)

Catholic education is important enough for Hix family to endure a lengthy separation. Pictured are Ligia, Oliver and Michiel Hix. (Provided)BEAUFORT—The Hix family knows what it is to sacrifice for Catholic education.

Oliver Hix, 18, recently graduated from St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Wisconsin, over 1,000 miles away from his home and family.

The young man said attending a Catholic boarding school up North was a tough adjustment from his small Southern community, but overall, it was worth it.

When Oliver was still a pre-teen attending St. Peter School, his parents Ligia and Michiel started looking around for a strong Catholic high school for him to attend. There were not many choices.

Benedictine Military School in Savannah, Ga., or Bishop England in Charleston were the closest options, and each would require an hours-long commute to and from campus each day. Mrs. Hix said this wasn’t feasible, but neither was public school.

“As parents, it was very important that he would be getting spiritual direction, with Mass and prayers,” Mrs. Hix said.

Franciscan Sister Bernadette Battaglia, a teacher at St. Peter, suggested they look at St. Lawrence. After researching it online, the family visited the private boarding school, which was founded by Capuchin Franciscans in 1860, and were impressed.

“The experience of being in that environment with all the boys and the spirituality of it was what we wanted for him,” Mrs. Hix said.

Still, it was not an easy decision. Financially, the family knew they could do it, but emotionally was another matter. After all, Mt. Calvary was 18 hours away. Oliver and his parents would not see each other for months at a time.

“We talked about it and prayed about it,” Mrs. Hix said. “For both of us it was hard, but for mom — me — harder.”  

Oliver said it wasn’t easy for him either, especially the first two years when he struggled with homesickness and a demanding curriculum. He said his junior and senior years were better, with more electives to choose from and the privileges of being an upperclassman.

His friends and professors became his family away from home.

He said there were 45 people in his graduating class and they all became extremely close, and have formed lifelong friendships.

“It’s a lot deeper of a relationship, which I liked. It was cool. It was the same for the teachers,” Oliver said.

The teen said they had many activities through the year. One highlight was the winter carnival.

Created in the 1970s, the event is held every January to celebrate the joys of winter in Wisconsin and starts with a morning prayer dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows.

Another event the youth liked was the Cultural Heritage Festival. Oliver said they prepared ethnic foods from their different cultures to share with one another.

St. Lawrence notes on its web page that the student population is a mix of Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian.

Now, with a high school diploma in hand, Oliver said he plans to spend the summer working with his father, who is a boat electrician. In the fall, he will attend the University of Dallas, where he plans to major in history and English.

Mrs. Hix sighs as Oliver talks about college. She thinks back four years, to the first time the family said goodbye. She knew his education and spirituality were most important, but every time he left was difficult.

Thinking about him leaving again, this time for Texas, brings awareness of time passing, and saying goodbye will be difficult for different reasons.

“He’s a man now,” she said.