Catholic Schools Celebrate, Serve Others

Catholic Schools Week (CSW) was celebrated in the Diocese of Belleville and across the United States last week with activities around the theme of community, faith, knowledge and service.

Schools sponsored different activities and opportunities to dress in colorful ways.

However, it wasn’t all pajamas and pizza at the Catholic schools.

At St. Joseph in Olney fifth-grade students set up a “wax museum” with students dressed as various saints. They offered information about the saint to those who visited “the museum.”

Many of the schools celebrated special liturgies with some inviting grandparents and volunteers to participate. At Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Herrin it was a “standing-room only” crowd for that special liturgy.

At Blessed Sacrament in Belleville, each day provided students an opportunity for service as they collected socks for Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, paper goods for the poor, canned goods for the parish food pantry, made thank you cards for veterans and products for the Humane Society.

They didn’t skip the fun either, with pajama day, school spirit wear and a pep rally among their activities.

At Notre Dame Academy, St. Augustine campus in Belleville, Msgr. William McGhee and Sister Tess Markus SSND shared their vocation stories with the students while another day speakers from Scott Air Force Base spoke about their military careers.

At Notre Dame Academy, St. Peter Cathedral campus in Belleville, students attended a Candlemass ceremony where candles were blessed and given to the school’s neighbors in the cottages.

At St. Mary in Mt. Carmel CSW activities revolved around the corporal works of mercy during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

To display “the face of God’s mercy” through kindness and compassion, students brought items for the Hope Pregnancy Care Center and dog treats for the animal shelter.

Another day, they took time to pray for the sick and visit or make doves for the elderly.

At St. Ann in Nashville, students joined other Catholic schools in the area at a liturgy celebrated at St. Mary in Mt. Vernon during the week. They participated in an event together, getting to know each other better. This has become an annual event for the participating schools.

At St. Mary Centralia, students and parents thanked faculty and staff at the school. St. Mary volunteers were also thanked with cards.

An all-school Mass was celebrated with parents, family members and friends invited to attend.

Later in the week, students expressed their concern for those who need support. This year’s collection went to Kids Hope United in Centralia.

A distinguished graduate, Mrs. Terry Bell, was honored at the 5 p.m. liturgy Feb. 6.

St. Joseph in Freeburg partnered with their classmates at St. Agatha in New Athens Feb. 1 for two activities: making rosaries and scarves.

The rosaries are being sent to service men and women, and the scarves were distributed Feb. 5 at an area nursing home and an assisted living facility.

As part of CSW, students were asked to write an essay on being thankful for their Catholic school.

Eighth-grader Sam Zittel wrote at length about his Catholic school experience. He expressed his gratitude for opportunities to attend Mass, for caring teachers who went out of their way to explain lessons; and friendships he has formed he expects to last a lifetime.

Fifth-grader Izzy Hoerchler was thankful for many people and activities at St. Joseph, especially the variety of classes he could take, including religion, computer class, Spanish, media and cooking class.

Seventh-grader Audrey Hill appreciates the smaller class size at St. Joseph. That way, students can receive extra attention during class and additional help after school if that is needed.

Fourth-grader Elaina Reinhart appreciates the “awesome projects and activities.”

St. Mary in Centralia honored its faculty and staff with a special luncheon at the beginning of the week while Tuesday students prepared thank you notes for the school volunteers. Mid-week, a special CSW liturgy was celebrated. Bringing in a donation on Thursday for the Kids Hope United, a local organization, gave students the opportunity to wear their pjs to school. Friday was carnival day, and Saturday evening, the school recognized a distinguished graduate, Mrs. Terry Bell. Students participated in the liturgy, taking on roles usually assigned to adults.

SS. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Waterloo began the week with an open house after the Sunday liturgy. On Tuesday, the school’s annual rummage sale was held with students and parents welcomed to find treasures. Money is sent to children’s missions around the world.

St. Teresa Catholic School in Belleville hosted an open house at the beginning of the week and took time to cut the ribbon on the school’s new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab as many parents, teachers and pint-sized members of the “Spirit Squad” cheered as adult “booster” Paul Fiedler cut the ribbon to the lab.

A few of the highlights included Family Picnic Day, “Kung Fu Panda 3” was on the week’s agenda, and students took time during the week to “spruce up” the areas outside their classrooms.

Immaculate Conception School in Columbia began the week with the annual science fair and open house. Isabella Frasure received “Best of Fair” with a project that tested the vitamin C content of different juices. FYI pineapple has the highest content of vitamin C with orange juice second.

Students were busy all week, beginning early by decorating classroom doors the previous week and jumped into service projects for various groups with enthusiasm and kindness.

Later in the week, they spent time writing encouraging letters and cards to the diocesan seminarians. At the end of the week, they thanked the many people that make going to a Catholic school not only possible but also worthwhile.

Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese selected a variety of activities to celebrate CSW.

They dedicated time to a Community Day, a Student Appreciation Day and a day to recognize a Faith & Our Nation Day.

At mid-week they celebrated Mass as a school community.

At Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo, students began the week listening to a Gibault graduate speak about life’s challenges. Chris Benyo and his wife, Denise were invited to share their story of life’s challenges as they face Denise’s life with ALS or sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to one definition “it is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”

Later the school’s band visited Catholic elementary schools and completed other activities.

(Editor’s note: Information for this article came from CSW agendas that schools were invited to send to The Messenger. We thank those who took the time to send it in.)