January 26, 2018

2018 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

‘A dream come true’ connects school community

Central Catholic School students Ingrid Reyes, left, Yasmin Salazar, Lesly Reyes, Stephanie Jasso and Natalia Jasso dress festively for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, 2017, at their Indianapolis school. (Submitted photo)

Central Catholic School students Ingrid Reyes, left, Yasmin Salazar, Lesly Reyes, Stephanie Jasso and Natalia Jasso dress festively for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, 2017, at their Indianapolis school. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Luz Caldera had the dream for a long time.

The dream connected her childhood home in Mexico, the Indianapolis Catholic school that has become part of her family, and the faith that has guided her life.

Caldera’s dream became a reality recently during a special celebration at Central Catholic School in Indianapolis on Dec. 12, 2017.

On that day, the school unveiled a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe during an emotional ceremony that struck to the hearts of the 243 students—and their families—who represent 86 percent of the school’s enrollment.

“I was close to tears,” recalls Caldera, the school’s administrative assistant who played a critical role in obtaining the statue that was made in Guadalupe, Mexico. “I felt a comfort, a peace, to have Our Lady of Guadalupe so close. Every time a parent walks into the school now, they look at the statue and their eyes shine. I believe it’s brought a new pride and joy to our school.”

Caldera knows well the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the special significance it holds to natives of Mexico—how the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico, and how on Dec. 12 of that year, she filled his cloak with roses, a cloak that bore her image when he removed the roses.

“It’s the only big miracle we’ve known,” she says. “When people ask for something, she’s the one we ask for help. Of course, we have to do our part always.”

That’s exactly what the community of Central Catholic School did to give the statue a home.

When principal Ruth Hurrle arrived at the school for her first year during the summer of 2017, she talked to Caldera about the school’s traditions—and the traditions they should add.

“Luz told me how important the Guadalupe tradition and story is to the Hispanic community, specifically the Mexican community,” Hurrle says. “She talked about how much it would mean to have a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I said, ‘Let’s get one!’

“Luz’s mother was already planning a trip to Mexico to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. So we thought it would be amazing to get a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Guadalupe, Mexico.”

So did the school community, which began a series of grassroots efforts to raise more than $2,000 for the statue.

Parents who worked at local businesses put up boxes by cash registers, asking for donations for the statue. The school sold suckers for a quarter and cups of horchata, asking a dollar for the popular Mexican drink.

“The largest donation we got was $20,” Hurrle says. “We did a basket raffle for each class that ended up raising several hundred dollars. That put us over the top.”

The large statue was unveiled at the school on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a ceremony in which students in traditional Mexican attire paraded toward the statue. There, they placed roses at its base.

The statue was then blessed and dedicated during a Mass for the students and their families at the school, which is one of the five Notre Dame Alliance for Catholic Education Academies in the archdiocese.

“Our families are very faith-filled people,” Hurrle says. “They want their children to attend a Catholic school, and they’re grateful for a Catholic education. It gives me so much hope for the future of the Catholic Church.”

The statue also symbolizes hope for the present, Caldera insists.

“The students see her as part of our life now,” Caldera says. “It’s hard to believe that we did it, that we have something like that at our school now. It’s like a dream come true.” †

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