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.

School music festivals set for March, April

Catholic school students are participating in two music festivals.

The Archdiocesan Jazz Band Festival was held March 18 at St Mary’s High School in South St. Louis.

Participating bands included St. Gabriel the Archangel School and Bishop DuBourg High School, both in South St. Louis; St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon; St. Francis Borgia Regional High School in Washington; DeSmet Jesuit High School in Creve Coeur; St. Joseph School in Cottleville; Chaminade College Preparatory School (middle and high school levels) in Creve Coeur; and St. Mary’s High School.

The Archdiocesan Elementary Song Festival will be held Wednesday and Thursday, April 1 and 2, with 65 schools participating. Programs will be held at 12 school sites throughout the archdiocese. This year seventh- and eighth-graders will be featured.

The festivals are cooperative and non-competitive, with each band evaluated but not ranked.

For more information, call Lederle at (314) 792-7324.

St. Ambrose students to join parish celebration

The annual St. Joseph celebration at St. Ambrose Parish on the Hill is expanding this year to include the students in St. Ambrose School.

This year’s parish celebration will be March 22, the Sunday following the traditional March 19 observance of the feast of St. Joseph. Two altars will be set up in the school cafeteria.

After 7 a.m. Mass, the pastor, Msgr. Vincent Bommarito, will bless the side altar, which will have bread, cookies and other food available for sale. He will bless the cafeteria’s main altar after 11 a.m. Mass. From noon to 3 p.m. Italian specialities will be available. Mass will be sung in Italian at 3 p.m., after which all the food on the main altar will be sold, with proceeds going to help needy families.

"We want to pass down the tradition of the St. Joseph Altar to our students," said Sister Carol Sansone, ASCJ, the principal.

The school children have been busy preparing. All 311 students in kindergarten through eighth grade received small white bags, which they decorated with images of St. Joseph.

St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Conference

WHAT: Annual conference of St. Louis Catholic
Homeschool Association

WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 3
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4

WHERE: Cardinal Rigali Center
20 Archbishop May Drive

WHY: To introduce Catholic families to home
schooling opportunities at all levels

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Parishioners work for continued Catholic education in area

The 11 parishes of the Northeast St. Louis County Deanery are combining their efforts to provide for the future of Catholic education in the deanery "in a way that’s never been done before," according to Chuck James, chairman of the deanery’s Ad Hoc Committee on Education.

James, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Ferguson, called the deanery’s Excellence in Education Initiative "exciting."

Father Michael Henning, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Bissell Hills, said, "We are trying to look at this in a different way."

"This is a great commitment by Catholics of this deanery to really have a say in what we want our future to be," said Bob Freesmeier, a member of St. Fernand Parish in Florissant and chairman of the Northeast Deanery Pastoral Council.

The Northeast County Deanery has nine parish schools and a special education learning center serving more than 2,200 students. The deanery underwent a large-scale consolidation of parishes and schools several years ago.

"We believed that before things deteriorated in any parish to the point that more closings be made, we needed to get together and position ourselves to be prepared for the future," James said. "We think we can do things better together than separately."

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