During the school-year we watch our young people grow. While they grow in size, there is so much goodness, so much sharing and sacrificing that also happens. Our school day starts with prayer together: for those celebrating birthdays, for the sick, special intentions. We pray together at Mass weekly. Our students share with each other: older students are “buddies” to the younger ones. What a gift to all involved! Our students share time and talent in our parish: on All Souls Day, 12 of our junior high students volunteered to help and beautifully represented all of us. At Thanksgiving our families in need receive generous supplies of food and other necessities because of the goodness of school families. Our junior high students willingly stay after school to help package the items for distribution. The Christmas Giving Tree has its share of stories as well. Individual students, as well as classes and families, work to make Christmas special for the less fortunate. Throughout the school-year each classroom has one or two specific shut-ins who receive letters, cards, and remembrances from the class. Imagine how much happiness this adds to that person’s day. One Girl Scout troop has been faithfully helping with home bound meals for over a year. Another troop gave cases of Girl Scout Cookies to go with the home bound fish fry dinners, so 6 cookies were given with each meal. For Christmas, another troop made beautiful homemade ornaments as a gift. Students sign up to help with monthly home bound meals, showing great responsibility. In case you’ve not seen this project in action, it is an inter-generational happening, with all ages working together and enjoying one another’s company while cutting, pealing, chopping, etc. to prepare approximately 140 home bound meals. It’s a delight to see and experience. For Thanksgiving, along with their turkey dinner, each meal recipient receives a lovely placemat made by students in art class. Each placemat is unique, having its own activity: word search, puzzle, riddle, etc. For Christmas, another group in art class makes lovely placemats from the fronts of “used” Christmas cards. Of course, all the placemats are too good to be used, according to the homebound, so one could find them hanging on a wall. Just imagine how much these things mean to the homebound and to their family.
On any given Friday during Lent you will find junior high students doing their part at the Fish Fry. Young and older, alike, working together for the parish community, while having a great time. In the midst of celebrating Catholic Schools Week our teachers and students remembered our homebound. On “Goofy Day” students made cards with jokes and riddles for the homebound meals’ recipients. Not only were the recipients entertained, but the meal helpers and drivers as well. Those cards, as do all the cards, get a lot of mileage. Many times throughout the year I’m in need of help with various projects, be it preparing materials for a mailing, or preparing items and bagging them as remembrances for the homebound. It also takes many hands to help get ready for the religious article “Garage Sale” as the students call it, and our junior high students play a huge role in that. They need service hours and I need help. Again, they not only sign up, they show up! It’s a win/win situation. They may not be gaining service hours, yet, but our 6th graders have already been willingly helping. As we work, we talk about the project, or there may be questions. It is one thing for our altar servers to be present on a school day, but a real sacrifice to be present during vacation days or on a weekend. We have some dedicated altar servers. One could never put a price tag on what has been accomplished by our students, thanks to the efforts of our teachers, working along with your co-operation. In addition to the above, there are countless other ways your children have reached out to others. Prayer….laughter…happiness…joy…feeling of worth… These are only some ways your young people have helped others this year. They have touched so many lives with their goodness. I don’t believe it stops there. While they are thinking and “doing” for others they are learning and growing. What we do becomes a part of who we are. There is so much goodness, and it is all around us. Do take time to stop, realize, and appreciate it. Our children grow up so fast! I pray you are able to enjoy them. Thank you, parents, and grandparents, for your example and your part in all of the above. We are dealing with young people who are in the process of being formed, and you are their first teachers.
Each year I am so blessed to witness the sharing and goodness that happens through your young people.
God bless you.
Sister Ann Vincent, O.P.