Across archdiocese, service at heart of Catholic Schools Week

| Beth Blair for The Catholic Spirit | January 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Every year since 1974, parochial schools across the United States have been celebrating National Catholic Schools Week — this year, Jan. 25-31.

According to the National Catholic Educational Association, the purpose of the week is to “focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.”

During the weeklong celebration especially, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis take to heart their presence in local communities through service projects.

The student council at St. John the Evangelist School in Little Canada has partnered with Scholastic Books to purchase books for University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Holy Family High School students in Victoria are making sandwiches for homeless people, tying blankets for parents at Methodist Hospital who lose a child during birth, and making Valentine’s Day cards for U.S. military troops serving overseas.

ByTheNumbersFourth-graders at Good Shepherd School in Golden Valley are participating in a sandwich service project as part of Allan Law’s 363 Days Food Program in which volunteers prepare sandwiches that are then distributed to people in need.

Fourth-grade teachers Krysta Klein and Stacey Poppler lead Good Shepherd’s project, after a student in last year’s class suggested the school join the effort. Law, a Minneapolis teacher, began the program in 1967.

“He calls his program the 363 Days Food Program because he wants to make sure homeless people have food to eat every day of the year, not just on Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Klein said.

St. Michael School in St. Michael started the week with Sunday Mass followed by an open house at the school for students to participate in a variety of activities.

“On Wednesday, students will take part in our own ‘Soup-er Bowl,” said Nancy Kopff, a middle-level teacher. “Students have been invited to wear the team jersey of their choice and to donate a can of soup for our local food shelf.

“This collection reminds our youth that while we celebrate the blessings of Catholic education, we are also called to share our resources and our spirit with the bigger community at large,” she added. “Students from the primary grades all the way through middle school age can readily understand the real need to ‘feed the hungry’ and typically respond to our food drives with great enthusiasm.”

This year, students in third through eighth grade from Holy Cross Catholic School in Webster are decorating cookies and singing for residents of The Villages in Lonsdale, an assisted living and memory care facility.

“Service is integrated into our curriculum, and we strongly believe that is an essential part of education — for students to learn not only facts and thought processes, but to learn empathy and compassion,” said Anne Fredrickson, director of development and marketing at Holy Cross. “Students should embrace the fact that we all have a responsibility to one another to essentially ‘be our brother’s keeper’ by seeing a need and responding to it according to Jesus’ call to do unto others as we would have done to us. We want our students to internalize the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.”

John Dols, assistant principal and campus minister at Holy Family High School, cites Pope Francis’ call to serve.

“Following the words of Pope Francis, we should always serve the poor and vulnerable in all we do and say as Catholics,” he said. “Catholic Schools Week simply gives us that opportunity to do it and connect it to who we are. Most young people in Catholic schools do service; this week gives us the opportunity to help our students understand why we do service.”

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Category: The Last Word