January 25, 2013

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Schools seek to grow closer to Christ during Year of Faith

Amelia Harrigan, left, Meredith Attai, Hailey Kocher and Gavin Farris, all second-grade students at St. Roch School in Indianapolis, pose on Jan. 15 in front of a bulletin board at their school dedicated to the Year of Faith. Each student wrote a way to evangelize on the bulletin board candles. Answers included, “I will give food to the poor,” and “I will proclaim the word to others.” (Submitted photo)

Amelia Harrigan, left, Meredith Attai, Hailey Kocher and Gavin Farris, all second-grade students at St. Roch School in Indianapolis, pose on Jan. 15 in front of a bulletin board at their school dedicated to the Year of Faith. Each student wrote a way to evangelize on the bulletin board candles. Answers included, “I will give food to the poor,” and “I will proclaim the word to others.” (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

The Year of Faith began on Oct. 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and will end on Nov. 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.

Pope Benedict XVI called for this special year to help Catholics around the world renew their faith in Christ so as to become more effective in their proclamation of the Gospel in their daily lives.

Catholic schools across central and southern Indiana are observing the Year of Faith to help everyone in their school communities grow in the faith—students, teachers and administrators alike.

Joe Hansen, principal of St. Roch School in Indianapolis, sees the Year of Faith as an integral part of the new evangelization, another priority of Pope Benedict.

“During our back-to-school discussions, we [teachers and administrators] talked about the importance of the Year of Faith and the new evangelization,” he said. “We all agreed that St. Roch Catholic School does a great job with [teaching] doctrine, but we challenged ourselves to remind kids that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is of paramount importance.

“We also discussed the importance of ministering to non-practicing adults, and the nominal believers whenever the opportunity presented itself.”

Teachers at St. Roch have also created colorful bulletin board displays to let their students know about the Year of Faith, and to encourage them to grow in their relationship with Christ.

“Words are one thing,” Hansen said. “But there is so much science that shows that when you make things more visual, it helps kids. Those visual reminders in beautiful bulletin board displays remind our kids about the importance of the Year of Faith.”

The students, teachers and administrators at St. Michael School in Brookville placed their focus on Christ during the Year of Faith by consecrating the Connersville Deanery school to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

All students attended the Dec. 12, 2012, consecration service led by Father Sean Danda, administrator of St. Michael Parish in Brookville and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Cedar Grove. The service included prayers, a blessing of the school and a formal hanging of pictures of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart in the school.

“When you think about what kind of things that God likes, he likes action,” said Cindy Johnson, principal of St. Michael School. “[The consecration was] an active way to get the kids involved in committing themselves and our school to him and to his mother, Mary. He likes us to do stuff and not just talk.”

At the same time of the consecration, students at St. Michael were working on an essay contest in which they were invited to explain why they love being Catholic.

Ben Kahles, an eighth-grade student at St. Michael, entered an essay.

“I thought it would make me grow stronger in my faith,” said Ben, a member of Holy Guardian Angels Parish. “I’m glad that I have guidelines from my faith, like the Bible, and have a place to go to worship.”

Johnson was amazed to read the various essays entered in the contest.

“It was awesome,” she said. “It’s edifying when you realize that we’re raising good, young Catholics, kids who care about their faith and want to please Jesus. They want that relationship [with him]. That’s why we’re here.”

Ben has attended St. Michael School since the first grade. He plans on attending Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg for high school.

“[Attending a Catholic school] has helped me learn more about my faith and grow stronger in it,” Ben said.

One of the reasons that Ben and his fellow students can grow in their faith is because their teachers also work to learn more about the faith.

During the Year of Faith, Johnson, her teachers and Father Danda are studying together the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

“When the teachers grow in holiness, it’s good for students,” Johnson said. “When you’re working at a Catholic school, if you don’t keep yourself connected to God, it’s very hard to do. It takes a lot of commitment and time. And when you’re working for Jesus, it’s easy. But if you forget that, it’s hard.

“So, this is one of the ways that our teachers and Father [Danda] and I, too, are keeping ourselves connected.”
 

(To learn more about the Year of Faith in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, log on to www.archindy.org/yearoffaith.)

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