Principal Andrew Mulloy’s Blog
October 16: Superheroes
In a recent school project, our 4-year-old preschool students had to name what they wanted to be when they grow up. Not so surprisingly, most of the boys wanted to be superheroes. The reason for that must be that our boys know and love these stories of superheroes.
These superhero stories are built on the common human desire to see good triumph over evil, and when the protagonist wears a cape, its way more fun. I think this response of our children begs to question something profound about choices we make as parents.
As parents, we make choices about what kind of images, toys, and stories we allow our children to surround themselves with. These things have a powerful impact on the way children see the world, and on the values they will hold as they mature.
All this begs to question, how are we sharing the story of our faith with our children in tandem with the stories secular society shares? Are we telling stories, watching videos, and surrounding our children with images that pass on the values of our faith and family values? As you choose media and guide your child in their interests, be sure to include the great stories of our faith. Consider selecting videos on the lives of the saints, the bible, or those based on Christian values. Encourage your family to place holy images on your walls and on your electronic devices.
I hope each of our boys wants to be a superhero and be the force of good which triumphs over evil. Most importantly, I want each of our children to be saints. I want each of them to be guided by strong Christian values and to one day join Jesus Christ in heaven.
September 25: Athletics
The educational research on sports has shown that students learn teamwork, perseverance and communication skills while participating in athletic programs. These programs can be an important part of a child’s development. St. John the Baptist School is proud to partner with the parish to offer have a robust selection of sports to our fifth through eighth grade students.
This fall, I had the chance to visit our students on the cross country course and the soccer field. I was pleased to observe our athletes’ positive attitude and teamwork. Throughout the competition, teammates cheered each other on, enjoying each other’s successes and supporting each other during hard times. Last spring, as I was leaving the building, I noticed a middle school boy on his way out to practice. Just before heading out to the practice, he stopped to kneel and pray in the church. At SJB we frequently see all the important aspects of development freely flow together like this.
St. John the Baptist School is committed to a whole-child approach in education. This means we work together to foster growth in the academic, emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs of each child. Our athletic program with its support from Booster Club and the parish is one example of tending this goal.
September 17: Family Values
Last year, we defined our three school values: faith, academics, and family. To many members of our school community, a sense of family and family values are among the top reasons their family belongs to St. John the Baptist School.
Our average class size is 18 students. This allows students and families to truly get to know one another. As they move through the years at SJB, students and families become close to one another, share the experience of growing up with each other, and make lasting memories. Our common faith and common values are truly the glue that hold the community and these relationships together.
To foster this sense of family, the Site Advisory Council and I work closely to ensure that we offer fun and positive experiences for families to share. One of these experiences is our upcoming Fall Harvest. Please join us October 5 from 4-8 p.m. for our Fall Harvest night. There will be games for the children, pumpkin decorating, food, and many opportunities for families to spend time together. The event is open for the entire Howard community. I look forward to seeing you there.
September 13: Architecture
When a new family joins our school, it is my pleasure to meet them and take them on a tour of the school and the church. One of the things I enjoy highlighting is the church’s architecture.
I point out the modern design, color scheme and technology. Most families are surprised by our beautiful stained glass windows. The modern St. John the Baptist Church was designed to incorporate the vintage windows that were moved from the original church and include the names of their donors from the early 1920’s.
The incorporation of the traditional windows in an architecturally modern building is a symbol of our philosophy at St. John the Baptist School. We are committed to passing on our faith in Jesus Christ and maintaining the traditional values and high academic expectations of the past in a modern, engaging, and relevant way that takes into account current educational research and practices, and includes a balanced amount of technology.
As you look around our beautiful church this weekend, take note of the features that capture your interest, and please continue to pray for our school.
September 6: Welcome Back
The first days of school are filled with so much excitement: a clean building, new shoes, new backpacks, smiling faces, and energized teachers. Over the summer we remodeled our library, deployed lots of new technology, and completed a lot of work on our curriculum. We are blessed to start this year with a 12% enrollment increase from last year, with a total of 308 students.
St. John the Baptist School had a fantastic first week of school, and we are excited for many positive things to come this year. Thank you for your many prayers, your support, and spreading the word about the great school that our parish has.
May 28: Empathy in Action
Last week, our fifth grade class visited the new Titletown District for a short field trip, and while they were there something beautiful happened. For those of you who haven’t visited the new Titletown District yet, one of the most striking features is a full-sized football field. While St. John’s fifth grade boys were playing there, they were approached by a teacher from a different school.
She explained that she was a teacher for students with disabilities and that they were also there for a field trip. She asked the boys from our school if they would play football with the disabled boys she had with her. Without hesitation the St. John the Baptist School students said, “yes” and played football with the other boys.
This is truly a beautiful story, but it didn’t surprise me at all. This simple, yet profound, example of love is what our school is all about. It represents the values of our students, our teachers, our families, and our parish community. Bravo to those students, and may God reward them for living with such love and empathy.
Dear Friends and Supporters of St. John the Baptist School:
The 2017-18 School year was St. John the Baptist School’s 129th year. I am humbled to complete my second year of service to this outstanding faith community. In 1888, forty years after the inception of the parish, the congregation raised $3500 to build a four-room school house in which to teach their children in a Catholic environment. We celebrate this commitment by continuing the tradition of advancing our children’s faith, academic prowess and sense of community. This year’s annual report shares our story and the successes of our students and teachers with the community and all who support our school.
At a time when many of our Catholic schools in the Midwest are struggling to maintain enrollment, St. John the Baptist School is proud to be one of 12 schools of the Diocese’s 54 to boast a growth in enrollment. Next year, we project increased student enrollment, quite possibly reaching over 300 students. Our membership in GRACE, Green Bay Area Catholic Education, helps us to continue to focus on growth, academic rigor, and building this excellent school for our children.
Catholic identity is central to our mission. Reflected in the Faith Report are many notable achievements in that area. The results of the ACRE test (a test administered by the National Catholic Education Association which measures knowledge of faith) show our students outpace national data by at least eleven percentage points in all areas. Students also had many experiences of the faith. Some of the most notable were: hosting a nationally syndicated Relevant Radio show and a number of celebrations in the liturgical life of the Church.
According to our entrance survey, we find that two most important reasons families choose St. John the Baptist School are the emphasis on our Catholic faith and our upholding high moral standards. However, the reason many families choose to stay at St. John the Baptist School is our outstanding academics. In all academic areas, our school boasted achievement that significantly outpaced national and regional trends with many students scoring in the top ten percent of their age group.
One of the great benefits of choosing our school is the closeness and welcoming attitude we have within our community. “Family” is always one of the first words students and parents use to describe our school and parish. Many successes are highlighted in this report, as well. Please, join me in celebrating a great academic year and continue to pray for the continued strength of our school.
2018 8th Grade Academic Achievement
As the school year winds down, I will use my weekly article to reflect on the successes we have had as a school community this year. This week, I am highlighting the academic successes of our eighth graders. Their success is the result of their own dedication, the commitment of their families to academic success, and the tireless commitment of teachers and staff.
The data referenced below is from the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress (MAP). All students take it in the fall and spring for major subject areas. This is a national computerized test which provides information intended to help educators make student-focused, data-driven decisions to improve teaching and learning.
In mathematics, 75% of our students scored in the “high-average” and “high” ranges with an average score well in the high school range. Over half of our students will enter high school one year advanced in math. In science, over 95% of our students scored above the 65th percentile, and 20% scored in the 90th percentile.
In reading, 84% of our students score in the “high-average” or “high” ranges with many students reading two years above average. On average, our students grew as readers one and a half years’ worth in this school year alone. In Language Arts, 95% of students scored in the top 40th percentile of students compared to national data.
Finally, in Spanish, our eighth graders who took the advanced class will enter Spanish 2 Honors at Notre Dame Academy and Spanish 3 Honors at Bayport. Over half of students in the regular eighth grade Spanish class will also place in advanced classes.
This achievement data is very impressive. It outpaces our regional trends and surpasses diocesan averages. We have a lot to be proud of at St. John the Baptist School.
Please join me in thanking the eighth graders for their hard work and the staff and parents for their support in helping the students achieve all they have.
This Christmas I reflected on the love of my mother a great deal. In part, because of the closeness of the holiday, but also because of the role of Mary in the Nativity. Below is a short excerpt from the British spiritual teacher, Caryll Houselander, that I read on Mary’s motherhood.
“In Bethlehem, in the desert, what had Christ to sustain his life but his Mother? She was so much more to him than one who wrapped him in swaddling bands, one who rocked his cradle and prepared his food. She was herself his warmth, his cradle, his food. The Mother is the trustee of God’s love to her baby. Yes, but she is even more than that – she is God’s love to him. Giving her to him, God gives himself.”
In this month of Mary, and in a special way, on this Mother’s Day, let us thank our Mothers, and mother figures, for being an expression of God’s love in our life.
April 23: New Members
This Sunday the parish is hosting a brunch for our new members. This gives us an opportunity to consider what we can do to make them feel welcome and to encourage others to join our faith community, as well.
St. John the Baptist Parish and School has deep roots in Howard/Duck Creek. You can see historical images of the old St. John’s buildings in the balcony at Festival Food, at the Village Hall, and in other places in the community. Many of our parish/school families are the third and fourth generation members, and many new families are joining this vibrant and welcoming community.
The growth we are experiencing is significant, especially compared to other parishes and schools. The Village of Howard has one of the fastest growth rates in the state of Wisconsin. It is a destination neighborhood for young families. Our parish and school are seeing a similar growth.
In Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” Today, consider how each of us can help to connect the new members into our community in a deep and nourishing way. Each member of our community, new, existing, or distant, needs to be connected to Jesus Christ in order to bear fruit. Let us work together to continue to build this environment that does more than welcome, but draws others into the heart of our parish and school.
April 16: Extra-Curricular Opportunities
St. John the Baptist School offers a robust selection of extra-curricular activities, both within school hours and outside of them. We are able to do so because of our strong relationship with our parish.
We are proud to offer a number of fine arts classes and opportunities for students within the school day. All school children attend a visual art class weekly where they create a variety of 2-D and 3-D projects. Children in 4-year-old early childhood through fifth grade attend a general music class. Beginning in fifth grade, students can participate in band, and in sixth grade, students can join our liturgical choir.
Our after-school sports program is organized and facilitated by the parish. We thank Deacon Manny and our athletic director, Dale Klimek, for overseeing this program. We are grateful to our parents for volunteering their time and support so that we are able to field many sports teams. In fall, we offer cross country and co-ed soccer; in winter, boys and girls basketball teams and archery; and in spring, track and tennis.
In addition to athletics, we provide a number of opportunities for students to get involved, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. With the support of the parish, we are able to offer Children’s Choir, Altar Serving and Prayer Group. Additionally, our teachers work together to provide Math Bowl and Forensics.
We thank all those who are involved in and support these programs. We are proud to be able to work with you to provide so many great opportunities for our children.
Alleluia! He is risen!
This single event in history changed the course of civilization forever. Power, imperialism, culture, and the hearts of men have never been the same. By conquering death, Our Lord gave us hope and the promise of eternal life. If we truly believe in Christ’s resurrection, our lives ought to be different – inspired by Him.
This Easter season, take time to ask: “How is my life different because of my faith in Christ?” Reflect on the answer and consider how you might continue to walk your faith. Consider how much you pray, attend Mass, read the Bible, serve others in need, and lovingly care for those in your home. This year, let us focus on making Easter the first day in our renewed spiritual journey rather than a single day. May we use Christ’s resurrection to enliven our hearts and to enkindle in us a deeper faith which leads to action.
Our faith in Jesus Christ transforms all we do at St. John the Baptist School. It causes us to create a school environment with faith at the center. Naturally, this means we pray and teach our religion in school, but more to the point, we teach faith in action. This means that we seek to create an environment where children learn to incorporate faith and morals into their daily lives.
Academics are an important part of our school, and we continue to boast test scores which exceed national averages. We are justifiably proud that so many of our alumni graduate at the top of their classes at both Bayport and Notre Dame Academy. But, more importantly, we are proud that the Risen Lord inspires our staff and our families to create an environment where people are loved and feel at home. Learn more at sjbhschool.org or find us on Facebook.
March 19: Friends and Families
When families decide to invest in Catholic schooling for their children, they become part of a Christian community. Faith integration and strong academics are important, but by choosing to send a child to St. John the Baptist School a family is also deciding to surround their child with students and teachers that share similar values and faith.
New families often relate how welcoming the St. John the Baptist School community is. Families that have been here a while tell me they met their closest friends because of their children’s classmates. This is because people who value our faith and traditional values choose to partner with our school and create this culture.
Thank you for working together to create the strong community and values-based environment we all enjoy.
March 3: On the Eucharist
Explaining the Eucharist to your three-year-old child can be a challenge. Our Church believes that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith, and we dare to believe that the very substance of the bread transforms into the “body, blood, soul, and divinity” of Jesus Christ. This is a radical belief, but is one at the core of our faith. So, when our little children, or our friends ask us, “What is the Eucharist?” we need to be ready to witness faithfully to our Church’s belief.
When my three-year-olds ask me what the Eucharist is, I quote St. Jacinta from Fatima who called the Eucharist “the hidden baby Jesus”. Although it has the outward presence of bread, Jesus is truly present within it. Recent Catholic author, Annemarie Thimons says this: “It is like when a Mother is pregnant with a little baby. We cannot see the baby in her belly, but the baby is still there, it is real, and it is alive.
In the Gospel of John (6:54), Jesus tells us: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” This is a big claim by Christ, and it is a big claim by our Church. This Lent, continue to challenge yourself to believe in this great mystery of our faith. Maybe ask yourself the question, “How would I explain this to a three-year-old?”
February 21: School Safety
The recent events at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have stunned and saddened us, prompting our heartfelt prayers for the families involved. As the country debates solutions, administration of St. John the Baptist School and the GRACE system at large reviewed our safety protocols.
We feel certain that our schools are safe. Not only are we blessed with a strong community and a caring staff, we have strong safety procedures in place. St. John the Baptist School annually reviews its safety plans with the Village of Howard Director of Public Safety. Our staff has been trained by the police department in emergency response protocol, and we monthly discuss how to handle various situations. In addition to state required fire/tornado drills, we also conduct an annual relocation drill in collaboration with the police and fire departments. Also, over the past 6 months, you may have noticed that St. John the Baptist School updated the exterior school locks and installed a video surveillance system. This surveillance system can be securely accessed remotely by the police department.
In addition to our strong procedures and security technology, it is important that we all continue to be watchful and vigilant at all times. As a school, and as part of the GRACE system, we can feel good about our sense of community and our safety protocols.
Please join us in prayer for the families and community affected by this recent tragedy. Please offer a prayer for our school to St. Michael the Archangel that our parish community continues to be protected from the forces of evil.
February 14: Lent in Our Catholic School
One of the beautiful parts of the Catholic school experience is that staff and students are able to fully engage in the church’s liturgical seasons. In Lent, our daily routines change and our faith’s rich biblical experiences become an even more integral part of school culture. This year, students and staff will enter into the season through the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Students and classrooms will commit to becoming better versions of themselves. The entire school will increase its prayer life by adding the Stations of the Cross, a school-wide holy hour, and the Sacrament of Penance to the schedule. We will create a large physical prayer chain using slips of paper that classroom write intentions on. This year, we developed a “fasting calendar.” Our teachers identified things the school community will abstain from each day. For example, one day we might abstain from talking out of turn or from our favorite snack. Lastly, we will join the parish in the CRS Rice Bowl collection and will host a collection for the Freedom House, a family advancement center in Brown County.
Please pray that our St. John the Baptist School community grows closer to Christ this Lent.
February 5: Be Imitators of Christ
In this weekend’s second reading, St. Paul says: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1) This is a brilliant and relevant reminder to each of us that we should not compare ourselves to other people, rather we should follow the example of Christ. We live in a time of harsh social judgment. We share images of our family, ourselves, or even our meals on social media, and then worry about how many “likes” we get. Parents see other families that look like they have it all together and get anxious because their own family may not. We read magazines or blogs that tout tremendous ideals, then look at our reality and wonder, “What am I doing wrong?”
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us something counter-cultural. He tells us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. He doesn’t tell us to compare ourselves to him. He tells us to change our behavior to be more like Christ’s. He’s pointing out that Jesus Christ is our ideal. Jesus’ virtue, His love, His Holy Family is what we should work toward. Jesus is the one we should imitate, not each other.
This week, when we find ourselves worrying about the judgment of others, remember that the only one whose opinion we need to be concerned with is Jesus Christ’s. Don’t just “Like” Him or “Follow” Him, imitate Him.
January 14: An Investment in the Future
A former St. John the Baptist School alumni, Mike, who has sent three children through our school, recently reflected on why Catholic education was worth the investment. “With St. John’s, I was grateful to have a school community that helped and supported my choice to raise my children in the Catholic faith. A community that shared my values. St. John the Baptist was a great choice for my family because it offered the important ‘difference’ I was looking for—the small things I wanted to be part of my children’s learning experience.”
Our staff, alumni, and clergy are proud of the strong faith, strong academics, and strong family that are part of the fabric of our school environment. Catholic education is an investment in a child’s future. Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) and St. John the Baptist Parish want to do everything we can to make Catholic education affordable for your family.
Each year, GRACE offers over $150,000 in tuition assistance and our parish offers over $10,000. In addition, many families use SCRIP for everyday purchases. A percentage of that purchase goes to offset their tuition. St. John the Baptist School participates in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program which allows eligible families to receive state aid to cover tuition. In addition, tuition payments can frequently be written off on your taxes.
Catholic education is an investment in your child that pays extraordinary dividends in moral character, academic success, and lasting relationships. If this is an investment you are interested in making, give us a call at school. Principal Mulloy would be happy to show you what we have to offer.
More information is available here: http://www.sjbhschool.org/tuition-assistance/
Christmas 2017: Who will our children follow?
The Christmas story we share with our children is about following God’s messengers and traveling towards Christ. Mary and Joseph both said, “Yes” to the angel’s request and brought Jesus into the world. The shepherds followed the angels’ proclamation and went to Bethlehem to meet Jesus. Last, the three kings followed a star to find our newborn king. Each of these people listened and followed God’s messengers which led them to meet and worship Jesus.
Parents and teachers at St. John the Baptist School are called to be God’s modern day messengers to our children. It’s not an easy task, the world is far louder today than it was 2000 years ago when Jesus was born. Because of this, we must make sharing the message of Jesus a priority. Prayer is a daily practice at St. John the Baptist, as I know it is in many of your homes. I ask that each of us make an extra effort to be true messengers of Our Lord this season. We want our children to know and worship Jesus in this world so they can one day join Him in heaven.
Bishop David Ricken summarizes it well: “If we don’t share our faith with our children, what will the world share with them instead? If we don’t pray for them, with them and teach them how to pray, where will they turn in difficulty and who will they turn to?” I can’t think of a better gift to share with our children this Christmas than love of and for Christ.
Advent 2017: Focus on Children
Advent is meant to be a time of peace and preparation, unfortunately it is often a time of stress for families. In a recent Compass article, Elisa Tremblay, Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Green Bay, challenged readers to remember what gifts they gave or received last Christmas and to try to recall what they had to eat. She then asked us to remember who we spend time with last Christmas. Her point was that the focus of the season should be on growing together as a family and not on all the other stuff.
Mother Theresa said, “The child is the beauty of God present in the world, that greatest gift to a family.”
When we visit the crèche and join the Holy Family in adoring the Christ child this season, may we stop for a moment and seek to see Christ in our own family. There will be many meals, treats, and toys this season, but may the children in your life be the greatest gift and blessing.
December 6: Developing the Whole Child
Recently, a teacher who joined us from the public-sector told me, “It is refreshing to know that I am developing not only smart thinkers but, more importantly, great people!”
While academics will always remain a primary focus, St. John the Baptist School believes that developing the whole child is critical to student success. Our staff is dedicated to helping each student grow in academic, social-emotional, spiritual, artistic, and physical realms.
We have a strong record of preparing students academically. Our test scores surpass local and national averages, and many of our alumni frequently graduate in the top of their class at both Bayport and Notre Dame Academy. But we don’t stop there. Our teachers seek to help each individual grow in character. Many of our school-wide programs and events focus on developing a child’s social-emotional well-being. We form each child spiritually by teaching religion and integrating themes of faith into everything that we do. We strive to walk with the Church through the liturgical seasons. The arts are also a priority. Each child takes a visual arts class. Every year, our elementary students participate in music class while our middle school students choose between band and choir. In physical education, we focus on life-long fitness and athletic skills.
When we focus on the whole person and help each student become the best version of themselves, we honor God and are true to our mission as a Catholic school.
November 30: Advent at School
Advent is one of the most misunderstood of the liturgical seasons. Why? First, Advent has been picked up by secular society and touted as a time of shopping, North Pole fairy tales, and decorating. Next, we go to Mass and see that both the priest and the altar are both dressed in purple—the Lenten color of penance. Yet we know that Advent is not a time of penance in the same way Lent is. It’s easy to see how we can get confused.
So what is Advent supposed to be? Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ and for His second coming. It is a time to look back on our year and see how we can improve. Despite the chaos of holiday preparation, this liturgical season is set aside as a time of quiet and stillness. A time to slow down and take time to pray and grow close to Jesus Christ. Elves and snowmen are fun to decorate with, but don’t forget to set aside a special place for a nativity scene. Perhaps your family could place an Advent wreath on your dinner table and make it part of your meal prayer. Consider setting aside a time to pray as a family, attend a Tuesday evening Mass, or take advantage of a reconciliation service. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to highlight Jesus–the reason for the season.
At St. John the Baptist School, we will celebrate the Advent season in a number of ways. This week, we had a reconciliation service, where students and staff were able to receive the Sacrament. Each week, we will have an Advent wreath prayer where we light the candles in anticipating Christ’s coming at Christmas and at the end of time. We will also be decorating a Jesse Tree. Though a Jesse tree may look like a Christmas tree, it isn’t. The Jesse tree helps children understand the story of the Bible leading up to the birth of Christ.
Please pray for our school children this season, that Advent might not only be a time of fun and presents but a time to prepare their hearts for Christ.
Thanksgiving: St. John the Baptist School gives thanks for:
Our teachers. St. John the Baptist teachers are the heart of the school. They make significant sacrifices for our children and for our faith. Their dedication is largely responsible for our students’ academic, emotional, and spiritual success.
Our families. We realize there are many schooling options and are thankful that 193 families have chosen to send their students to St. John the Baptist. It is truly an honor to partner with our families in the education of our children.
Our students. Students are the focus for our school and the reason the school exists. Seeing them learn to read and to love their neighbor is a reward without measure.
Our parish. It is a great honor to partner with our pastoral leadership, our parishioners, and our community. We are humbled to share a common mission to help others know, love and serve Jesus Christ.
Jesus. Jesus Christ is the reason for our school. His love, His cross, His mission, gives everything meaning and purpose. May we always remain focused on Him.
November 13: Student Services at St. John the Baptist School
St. John the Baptist School routinely boasts scores on national standardized tests that surpass national and regional averages. We are very proud of our outstanding academic achievement. In addition to building a nurturing environment that teaches the whole child in the midst of an intimate community, one of the key reasons our students are so successful is because of the work our teachers do to individualize education. At St. John the Baptist, teachers identify a child’s ability level and interests. Teachers are able to adjust the curriculum to increase the challenge or to provide the appropriate supports for students without compromising the integrity of our curriculum. Our small class size, 18 students on average, increases our ability to proactively help each child achieve his or her personal best.
In addition to this approach, we are proud to have Mrs. Heinz our full-time Reading Specialist who provides support to individual students and works with classroom teachers to ensure an excellent reading curriculum for all. We also have Mrs. Atnip a full-time Supportive Consultant who works closely with teachers and staff to support students. These two teachers meet weekly with Mr. Mulloy to review student learning data and evaluate the effectiveness of our student services.
At St. John the Baptist, we believe every child has gifts to be nurtured. Through our Student Services Program, we support students and teachers to ensure each child receives a meaningful, responsive and personalized Catholic educational experience.
All Saints and All Souls Day
November is the month Catholics traditionally pray for those who have passed away. It begins with All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Praying for the dead is a tradition that goes back to our Judeo roots, and is a practice found in scripture. When we pray for the dead, we may pray that Christ’s unfailing mercy continue to pour on them, or we may ask for the intercession of those who are joined with the Father in heaven. In many cultures throughout the world, people mark this month with traditions like lighting candles for the dead, visiting the graves of loved ones, and making small prayer spaces in memory of departed loved ones.
Each of us can do little things to honor those who’ve gone before us. For example: when I enter our school each morning, I look at the Church steeple and pray for the people who sacrificed to build our parish and school. I ask Christ to enfold them in His mercy in heaven. I also ask those souls for their intercession on behalf of our parish and school that we might continue to be the thriving Christian community they worked so hard to build.
This is the traditional prayer of the Church for the dead:
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
October 25: A Unique and Faith-Filled Preschool
Our program exposes children to pre-academic concepts and focuses on fine motor and social skill development. Children learn early literacy and number skills through hands-on projects and activities in an environment that challenges and nurtures them as individuals. Staff integrates our Catholic Christian faith into the classroom environment and academic content. We teach through a variety of themes that allow your child to learn and explore through play. Your child will look forward to coming to school.
October 18: Family Groups
Christian communities are different than other communities because they have Jesus Christ as their foundation. This idea of community is one of the cornerstones of our school. Our teachers, families and students have long been part of a supportive family seeking to grow in holiness. Continuing to build on this foundation is central to living out the mission that Christ has for our school.
This year, we are doing some new things to strengthen our sense of community. One of these new things is called Family Groups. Once a month, our students and adults gather in small, mixed-grade level Family Groups to learn about their faith and pray together. Last month, each group selected and learned about a patron saint. This month, students are learning about the rosary. This program helps older students develop an awareness of responsibility while helping young students gain a deeper sense of belonging. Most profoundly, it is providing an intimate Christian community within the walls of our school.
October 4: Character Development
A middle-school girl rushed across the hall fumbling a stack of books, folders and other school supplies. For a moment, it looked as if she would make it to her locker safely. Then, her pencil box slid from the pile and hit the tile floor in an explosion of pens and pencils. Without hesitation, four boys were on their knees collecting and returning the contents to her pencil box. Fifteen seconds later, it was as if the event never happened. The girl finished her locker stop with a smile that only kindness and charity can bring.
I had the privilege of witnessing this scene not long ago. Acts of kindness like this demonstrate the intangible value of Catholic education. I see a lot of them in here. Our school values kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness—everyday examples of the Golden Rule. We partner with families to teach students to love God and neighbor, helping them treat others the way they would like to be treated.
September 27: Faith and Academics
During our summer in-services, each of our kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers partook in guided reading training. Our school brought in a reading consultant who conducted on-site instruction on best practice in teaching elementary students to read. Guided reading is a strategy in which the teacher works with small groups of students to read using targeted instruction at the individual student’s ability level. Although this strategy is not new at St. John the Baptist School, continuing to grow professionally and staying current with best practice is part of our commitment to ensure a high-quality academic program.
This week at school, we prayed a five-day novena for the victims of the natural disasters in the South. To honor the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, we took up a collection to send to a relief fund based out of a Catholic school in Houston, Texas.
September 20: St. Anne
St. Anne was once a patron saint of our parish, and I would like to lift her up again as an example and intercessor. Since the second-century, Christians have acknowledged her as the mother of Mary. Today, she is a patron of homemakers and teachers. She is most often depicted holding the Hebrew Scriptures and teaching Mary. This image is a great example to us in our role of forming children in the Christian life. Pope Francis, in speaking about St. Anne, said, “How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith!”
Our parish once held a statue of St. Anne in the Church, and we have clean it up and placed it outside our elementary classrooms. If you see the statue in the hallway, you will notice that she is depicted in the classic style, holding the Hebrew Scriptures and teaching Our Blessed Mother.
Please, pray that our school community continues to be an example and a teacher of the faith. St. Anne, pray for us!