All Saints Day: Loving Catholic Schools

I wrote this article, below, on behalf of St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School, at the request of our amazing Walk-a-thon chairs and my terrific friends, Meg Ryder and Angie Watson.  We’ve held this event for many years, but they have taken it to a whole new level of fun and meaning while still raising funds vitally necessary for the sustenance of our parish school.  Catholic schools everywhere couldn’t make it without supportive volunteers who pour time, funds and their hearts into these schools where our children are able to have daily conversations with and about Christ, grow in character and integrity.  One day soon I’ll write an article exclusively about why I love Catholic schools.  I’ll talk about things like 2nd graders wearing shirts that say “Run, Jump, Play but Do Not Sin! –St. John Bosco” and kids stopping class to say the rosary for a classmate starting chemo.

Until then, I offer this article for today,  All Saint’s Day,

SLDM Walk-a-Thon, 2012

to all the Catholic school volunteers giving of themselves, and all the parents sacrificing for the truly worthy effort of making certain a faith filled Catholic education is available at terrific Roman Catholic institutions all over this amazing country.  You can spot them easily.  They all generally have names like “All Saint’s Academy”, “St. Lawrence”, “St. Mary’s”, “St. Boniface”, or “St. Louis de Montfort”!  KEEP THE FAITH, ALL!  Our Catholic schools are a treasure!

Missionaries in the Mirror:  SLDM Walk-a-Thon

School aged children have a special knack for focusing on fun.  In the fall, most of the kiddos in our neck of the woods look forward to things like Friday night football games or what costume to wear while “trick-or-treating”. Students at St. Louis de Montfort (SLDM) in Fishers, Indiana, also mark the days eagerly awaiting the annual SLDM “Walk-a-thon”.

Yes, the event is a fundraiser.  Oh, but it is so much more!

The goal of the event is to help the children learn how to love, learn, and lead in the community.  This year’s theme, as captured by students who created the event logo, was “Faith-Filled Footsteps”. The idea is to assist students in learning by action, how to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Catholic writer, Jennifer Rey, recently wrote “the essence of the Church’s evangelizing mission is to simply help people, not necessarily convert them.  Conversion is important, but we are called first and foremost to love and to serve.”  The message is one the students at SLDM have been living through their beloved walk-a-thon for several years.  We are all called to see ourselves as missionaries.  Children of any age can pray, smile, help, and engage others.

Partnering with Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent (PMCH), students and staff at SLDM are each assigned a prayer partner.  These are sick children being treated at the nearby Indianapolis hospital.  Students are given the patient name, age and condition.  They wear that partner’s information around their neck (this year on dog tags) during the weeks leading up to the actual day of the walk.  They gather items from nearby neighborhoods to give to patients from their wish lists, and they pray for their partners.

Associate pastor, Fr. John Kiefer, spiritually challenged the students to demonstrate actions of love, learning, or leading like Jesus for which they earned plastic balls to place in two story high tubes!  How amazing it was to see their acts of compassion and leadership grow to the 2nd floor of the school!  It was a terrific visual which spoke loudly about how much we can accomplish!

In addition to the community partnership with PMCH, pledges were gathered by students for each step they took during the walk, which will be used to assist the parish school in its mission of providing a quality Catholic education for its 475 students.  Principal Annette Jones and Vice-Principal Janet Andriole added to the fun by providing an “incentive” to the students.  If the student body reached its fundraising goal of $35,000, their administrators would wear the costumes chosen by students during “Walk-a-Thon” week.  It was silly fun to see Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Andriole dressed in costumes all day! The top student fundraiser earned an Ipad3 for himself, and one for his prayer partner, a 12-yr old girl named Laike, from Kokomo, Indiana. Sponsors helped defray the costs.

During the Walk-a-Thon day itself, students created signed pictures to deliver to their prayer partners, they lifted up their intentions by writing them and placing them on a 6ft tall, 3-D cross, there were team building activities, songs, and of course the walk/run itself!  Pastor Fr. Pat Click in his “Fr. Pat Challenge” urged students to go the extra mile, to push and sacrifice for others as they walked and ran!

The event raised a total of $43,000 for the school.  More than that, it taught the students that they don’t have to go to Calcutta like Mother Teresa to make a difference.  They just need to see the missionary in the mirror.

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