Twenty percent of the students at Roanoke Catholic are non-Catholics

The Pope's retirement Thursday marks a time of transition for Catholics around the world.

But a religious transition is nothing new for some students at Roanoke Catholic School.

It's a Catholic school with catholic teachings, but not all the students are catholic; a challenge many students welcome.

Twenty percent of the students at Roanoke Catholic aren't Catholic.

School administrators say the Christian diversity enhances the learning experience, students agree.

Zach Bowyer is a Methodist.

“It's definitely a more Christian environment than a Catholic-based environment,” Bowyer said.

Jordan Doubles is Episcopalian.

“I like it because it helps me be a little more understanding of other people, when other people come up to me and ask me what denomination I am I just say 'I'm Christian.’ I don't really consider myself anything other than that,” Doubles said.

Every Catholic school in Virginia allows students of all other religions to enroll.

Those students say inter-denominational diversity is enlightening overall, but has it has challenges too.

Politics aside, students say they all get along.

The Pope's retirement does highlight the differences in student’s religious beliefs.

“I understand that it is the center of the catholic Church so in that sense it's good to know, going to a catholic school you need to know that kind of thing,” junior Micah Beutell said.

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Bowyer said: “The pope doesn't really play a huge role in my religion so it really doesn't matter to me as much as it would to a catholic person.”

These differences among students beg the question to parents: Why send your non-Catholic child to a Catholic School?

Todd Hester says the school teaches a strong Christian foundation that isn't overbearing.

“There's plenty of space given to them to pursue their own faith tradition if they don't belong to the Catholic tradition, while at the same time on their end they're being pretty thorough in their education and I just think that's spectacular, the balance they've been able to strike,” Hester said.

And it's a balance Roanoke Catholic says it's struck successfully for 127 years.