St. John, St. Theresa students commit to service

Special to The Weekly Citizen

Throughout the St. John Primary/St. Theresa Middle school year, the pastors of the various parishes visit the schools to celebrate class masses with the students (and their parents) who are assigned to them.  The pastors come to the school and hold grade level reconciliation service opportunities for the students during the school year.  

The seventh graders spend a day at St. Joseph Catholic Church in French Settlement for spiritual growth and service.

“We paired up classes with church parishes to further encourage our students to serve within the church,” said Kim Lacinak, coordinator of religious education.  “The church parishes/parishioners have always supported our schools, and we wanted to give back.”

The second-grade classes at St. John Primary create Birthday Bags for the St. John the Evangelist Food Bank. They donate cake mix, icing, disposable baking pans, candles, birthday plates, birthday napkins, utensils, and sprinkles. The students put together the donations to create everything needed to celebrate a birthday. 

“Birthdays are a big deal to second graders, and they are always so excited to prepare a birthday party for someone in need who may not be able to purchase a cake,” grade teacher Nicole Bernard said.  

The students also make birthday cards to go in the birthday bag to let the recipient know that the students are praying for them. On the day of the retreat, they deliver the Birthday Bags to the food bank and get a chance to ask questions and see how the food bank helps others.

The third-grade class at St. John Primary has taken a field trip to St. Mark to plant flowers in the meditation garden and make rosaries for the homebound at St. Mark’s parish.     

The fourth-grade classes made picture frames so the children making their First Eucharist at Holy Rosary would have a memento from their special day. The fifth-grade classes have assisted St. Anne Church with Easter Egg Hunt preparations for their parishioners as well as making Christmas ornaments and cards to put with the St. Anne’s food drive bags.

St. Gabriel Church has had the sixth-grade class take field trips to Carville to celebrate Mass with Father Charles Landry in the Sacred Heart Chapel. The students go to the National Hansen’s Disease Museum and experience the medical history of the Carville Leprosarium and learn of the faithful service the St. Gabriel Church community provided to those that lived there.   

Since 2014, the seventh graders are bused to St. Joseph Catholic Church in French Settlement for a day of spiritual growth and service.  Father Jason Palermo spends the morning giving the students an interesting presentation about the history of the church and town.  The students participate in Mass and then the work begins.  Students have dug trenches, cleaned inside the church, pressure washed buildings, trimmed trees and weeded flower beds. 

When asked how she felt about her recent service project experience at St. Joseph Catholic Church, seventh-grader Cecile Braud said, ”It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun because my friends were there. I was proud to know that there was going to be a wedding at the church that weekend and the bride would be happy to see the flowerbeds cleaned up.”

The eighth-grade class assigned to St. Theresa of Avila, has helped with collecting and distributing groceries for the food pantry, cleaning the graveyard, and Father Eric Gyan with polishing the tabernacle, candlesticks, and pews inside the church.  Father Eric works alongside the students asking them about their families and interests.  Bursts of laughter would erupt as he entertained them with some of his experiences as a seminarian and his early years as a priest.  

A very unique way the school gives back to the children and young adults of area church parishes is by hosting an annual “Praise and Adoration Night.” The evening begins with a free pizza dinner, continues with a high-energy experience combining music and prayer, and concludes with the beautiful rite of Eucharistic Adoration.  This year it will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 11 in the St. Theresa Middle gym.  All students sixth grade and older are invited. You can register your child for Praise and Adoration by going to www.sjp-sta.org under News & Announcements.