Among the best

Anne Kordes converses with Senior Lauren Christman.

Being offered the job as head volleyball coach at St. Louis University was "a huge opportunity" in part because of the excellent programs in St. Louis, said Anne Kordes, whose SLU team has risen to rank among the best in the nation.

"The level of play in St. Louis and around St. Louis is outstanding," Kordes said. "I thought St. Louis would be a good fit. There’s a strong connection with volleyball at the Catholic schools. No doubt, half of our team is from Catholic schools. And if you look around, there are strong programs at public schools around St. Louis as well."

Other large Midwest cities also have strong volleyball programs in Catholic high schools, Kordes noted.

She said it has been easy to recruit students to St. Louis University. "We get these kids on this beautiful campus and tell them what the education is worth and explain to them they’ll have great coaching and an opportunity to win the conference. It’s just snowballed from there."

The Catholic Youth Apostolate’s CYC leagues provide a foundation, giving children the opportunity to play in the third grade, with some parishes offering instructional play as early as kindergarten. Kordes is in contact with coaches who want to bring their players to SLU practices, games or clinics.

Vacation Bible school at St. Joseph open to students with special needs

For the second year, St. Joseph Parish in Manchester will include special-needs children in its vacation Bible school.

The parish will hold its summer Bible school program from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, June 15-19. The program is aimed at children in kindergarten through fourth grade, with fifth- and sixth-graders as "youth adventurers" and seventh-graders and older as "youth helpers."

Last summer for the first time the program was opened to include special-needs children from St. Joseph and several other parishes. The program was "an overwhelming success," according to Michelle Foster, St. Joseph’s parish school of religion coordinator.

Children with special needs will have a specially designed vacation Bible school program. A committee of teachers, parents and therapists worked to prepare the curriculum and environment to make the vacation Bible school accessible to all students, Foster said. The special-needs class will be taught by special education professionals.

Space is limited. Registration is due April 27; contact Foster at (636) 391-1404 or

Aquinas Institute offers Summer Break classes

Registration is open for Aquinas Institute of Theology’s 2009 summer session. This year’s courses will include "something for everyone," said Dominican Father Richard Peddicord, president of the Dominican-sponsored graduate school of theology and ministry in St. Louis.

Courses include for-credit offerings in theological and ministerial study and non-credit, single-session classes on different aspects of Catholic life and culture. A one-week course on preaching and a weekend formation program also will be given.

Both for-credit and non-credit courses will be offered during the session, which runs from May 18 through Aug. 19.

Programs for credit include one-week, two-week and three-week courses in Scripture, moral theology, spiritual direction, pastoral ministry and technology in ministry, as well as an online Church history course.

The non-credit courses are offered through the new Summer Break@Aquinas initiative as either single classes or continuing sessions. They are: "Getting To Know Catholic St. Louis," Wednesday mornings, May 27-July 15 (excluding June 3) ; and "Bake and Be Blessed," with Benedictine Father Dominic Garramone, well-known PBS-TV host and cookbook author, weekday mornings June 8-12.

For-credit courses are $370 a credit hour.
Single-session Summer Break courses are $75, with a 20 percent discount for five or more sessions or one-session registration for groups of five.

Aquinas will offer its 21st annual Summer Preaching Institute, this year a one-week intensive program, Monday through Friday, June 15-19. The preaching program is aimed at anyone engaged in Christian preaching, including priests, deacons and retreat preachers.

The weekend formation program to explore Dominican spirituality, focusing on St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena, will be June 11-14.

For more information or to register, go to or call (800) 977-3869 or (314) 256-8804. Registration is due April 30.

Aquinas Institute of Theology is at 23 S. Spring Ave. at Forest Park Boulevard in Midtown.

Program to offer information on the Church’s catechism

"The truth is life changing," according to John Gresham, associate professor of systemic theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Gresham is offering to help Catholics find that truth through a one-day workshop sponsored by Paul VI Pontifical Institute of Catechetical and Pastoral Studies. It will be Saturday, March 28, at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.

The workshop, "Profession of Faith," is on the first of four sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and is the first of four planned workshops. Future workshops will focus on the remaining three sections of the catechism: the sacraments and worship, moral theology and prayer.

"The first section is on the Creed, on what we believe," Gresham told the Review.

In addition to teaching full time at the seminary, he also teaches classes for Paul VI Pontifical Institute, which for some time has offered 10-week courses on the catechism.

"Some people don’t have time for a 10-week course. We wanted to offer something more compact for them. This workshop is for the average Catholic in the pew, anyone interested in learning more about the faith and who wants to learn about the catechism through a user-friendly approach," Gresham said.

Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the workshop. For those without a catechism, Paul VI Institute will have copies at the workshop available for use.

The workshop will include talks, discussions and time for questions and answers.

"It will be an enjoyable day," Gresham said.

Gresham has appeared on EWTN television, on "The Journey Home" program, discussing his journey into the Catholic Church from, first, the Assembly of God and, later, the Episcopal Church.

"By becoming Catholic, I didn’t become less Pentecostal — I became more Pentecostal, with a larger view of the Holy Spirit, not just in my life but in the life of the whole Church," said Gresham, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville.

Gresham’s journey into the Church began while in college when he was studying the early Church fathers.

"Learning is a means of spiritual transformation," he said. "By knowing our faith better, it changes our lives and helps us live a life closer to God and with greater love for others."

Holy Trinity students walk in Christ’s steps at Karen House

Brandon, an eighth-grader at Most Holy Trinity School in North St. Louis.

On a recent morning, Brandon Ramsey and Terrence Gambrell hovered over a large stove in the kitchen at Karen House, stirring two big pots of green beans as they talked about the books they’ve recently read.

In the room next to them, Gregory Nobles, hobbling on crutches because of a broken ankle, attempted to spread spaghetti sauce over a tray of pasta as his classmate Tiffany Campbell helped.

The four eighth-graders at Most Holy Trinity School in North St. Louis were learning to be Christ-like servants, according to teacher Dan Schuler, by helping those in need in their own community.

St. Gemma students learn about service

Christian service is an earmark of Catholic schools, and principal Catherine Forder wanted to provide that opportunity for her students at St. Gemma Center for Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Ellisville.

Through a joint effort with Sister Anne Francioni, a School Sister of Notre Dame who is executive director of Whole Kids Outreach, Forder got her wish. And needy children in Southern Missouri will be having a happier Easter because of it.

On March 16 the St. Gemma students stuffed Easter eggs for children served by Whole Kids Outreach, a faith-based charity in Southern Missouri.

Forder explained, "Working with children with autism, I realized their knowledge of the world outside their own little box was something they didn’t seem to notice much. I wanted to change that, give them an idea that there are other things happening outside of what happens in your world every day."

Along with that, Forder said, "I want my students to be aware that there are other people out there, and we can help them. That is part of our Catholic faith. Our children may be in special education, but they need to learn that lesson, too."

The two organizations hooked up through Lynn Raney, development coordinator at Whole Kids Outreach, who has a relative attending St. Gemma.

Sister Anne also has a long history with special education. Her aunt, Sister Lillian McCormack, also an SSND, "helped start the St. Louis Archdiocesan Department of Special Education." Through that connection Sister Anne came from her native New Orleans to St. Louis to work for a year st St. Mary’s Special School and joined the SSNDs here.

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