Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
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Teaching empathy for persecuted; OLA sends card of encouragement

Posted By February 2, 2012 | 1:19 pm | Lead Story #2, Local

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By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – Fifth-graders at Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School this week used their own experiences to empathize with persecuted Christians abroad – and their creativity to encourage them.
For Catholic Schools Week teacher John Mistretta said he taught students in grade 5 about persecution of Christians around the world and had the youngsters pray for them and make cards for them. He said he gave literature and prayer cards about the issue to other teachers to use in fourth and sixth grade.
“My sister died in ’07, so I know how it feels to lose someone you love,” fifth-grader Patricia Butcher told The Catholic Free Press as her classmates finished their cards Wednesday. “My grandfather died in 2003. I’ve really struggled. I want to help these people so they will be strong and not lose faith.”
“When I was little people used to make fun of me because I have no hair,” said her classmate Morgan Richardson. “They’re not respecting them for what they are,” she said of those who persecute Christians. “I wanted to tell them (the Christians): be who they want to be because no one can change who you are.”
Carmeron Carlson said before Mr. Mistretta taught them about persecuted Christians, he saw on the news the burning of churches in Egypt.
“I kind of felt bad for the people because a lot more started dying,” he said. He said he hoped his card would make peace and let people know they can have whatever religion they want to.
“I made the dove on the card because it’s a sign of peace,” said Helena Greenslit. “I said, ‘The Lord is proud of you’ because I think it takes a lot of courage to stay strong and be careful what you do.”
“I really want to help these people because I know they need a lot of support, and my card’s just about them having faith,” said Hannah Nicoloro.
“I hope that people will see these cards and be hopeful and be strong,” said Hailee Cronin-Loggie.
“This project is something that’s telling them to be brave and to follow what they believe,” added Victoria Robicheau.
Josie Fitzgerald said that from the project she learned “that a lot of people do bad things.
“You can’t force them to stop it,” she said. “You can help the people who are being hurt by starting programs like these.”
“The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an issue that I’ve been aware of for some time,” Mr. Mistretta told The Catholic Free Press. He said he has had a interest in history, current events and the Middle East, more so since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the war in Iraq.
“Every year during Catholic Schools Week time we like to use some of the week to do a service program,” he said.
As a fifth-grade social studies teacher, he figured it would be good to address the persecution, and he combined it with religion, which he also teaches, he said.
He did research online and contacted Aid to the Church in Need, he said. (The website says Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church which has helped suffering Christians for more than 60 years.)
Patricia Hatton, of Aid to the Church in Need, “offered her good services,” sending him suggested prayers and materials about many countries and offering to send the cards his students made to her contacts in the Middle East, he said.
“We’ll continue our prayers throughout the year,” Mr. Mistretta said. “We believe in the power of prayer. … We’re a building permeated with prayer here.” He said he told students they will pray daily, and not just for Christians, but for people of all religions.
Ms. Hatton said in an e-mail that the cards will be sent to Archbishop Bashar Warda in Erbil, northern Iraq, and he will give them to local priests. She said he said Christians’ situation seems to be worsening and they sometimes wonder if they will survive as a people in their country.
But, he said, “In Iraq, 40 years of war and oppression have strengthened our endurance and our resolve to stand strong and to claim our legal and historical right as a Church and as a people.”
The cards are “a reminder to Iraqi Christians that they are not alone or forgotten and that people are praying for them and in solidarity with them,” Ms. Hatton said. “It gives them hope that others are ‘giving them a voice’ when no-one else seems to be listening.… It is very heart-warming that young people in America have committed to prayer and practical action to reach out to the Christian community in Iraq.”

St. Anne students ‘outsmart’ their parents

By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

WEBSTER – The game,” Are You Smarter than a St. Anne Student?” was played by students and their parents Monday evening at St. Anne School.  By all accounts, the students outshone their parents.
Doors opened early before the game began at 6:30 p.m.  Ellen Tagg, librarian, greeted all as they streamed in the door, and directed them to the cafeteria.  The anticipation and excitement was palpable.  Students and parents were directed to place their names in small, white paper containers.  There were containers for each of the eight grades.  One table held the names of the parents, and the other held the names of the students.  The names of five students and five parents were drawn from each grade during the course of the game.
Parent Lisa Livsey came up with the idea after a brainstorming session.  This is the very first time this game was played at St. Anne’s.  Teacher Marilyn Berthiaume hosted the game dressed in a purple cap and gown with a gold tassel around her neck.  Mrs. Livsey said, “The students are so smart we wanted to show them off.”  She is the mother of Robert and Matthew.
Meanwhile, the cafeteria was filling up quickly, and appropriately enough, cookies and cupcakes were there for the munching.  Everyone was talking or laughing.  Small boys hurried around the room, one after another, some clutching cookies.
There was a table featuring family decals one could buy to put on one’s car.  You could order a decal for each member of the family and personalize it with dark or light hair.  The promotion was to “Build Your St. Anne’s Family.”
Sister Pauline Weldon, a teacher’s aide, said, “It’s a new experience for the teachers, parents and students.”
Soon, everyone was directed across the hall to the gymnasium where the game was held. The back wall behind the bleachers was covered with signs and posters.  They included: grade 1 is smart; grade 2 is cool; grade 3 rules; grade 4 is awesome; grade 5 comes alive; grade 6 rocks; grade 7 rocks; and grade 8 won’t hesitate.
And the sign that caught the eye said: “Are You Smarter than a St. Anne Student?”
The cheering, foot stamping, and clapping became louder and louder as more and more people poured into the gym.
The room hushed when Father Adam Reid, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, spoke and then prayed.  As soon as the prayer ended, the excited noise erupted again.  Mrs. Berthiaume who was to read the questions, was introduced, and she walked purposefully in, in her purple gown.  She received a foot-stomping ovation.  The students were beside themselves with excitement.
The first grade up was grade 5.  As each student’s and parent’s name was pulled, cheering greeted it.  The student players were: AnnMarie Berthiaume, Grace Jackman, Carly Snyder, Rebecca Jalbert and Nekelle Waskiewicz.  Parents were Mark Miller, Lynne Jalbert, Dave Carlson, Greg Daniels, and Victor Waskiewicz.
The first question stumped both panels.  The question was: Who is the author of “The Best Bad Thing”?  The answer is, Yoshiko Uchida.  The students got the answer to: What is the direct object in this sentence?  Paul threw the ball to Tim.  The answer was: ball.  There was wild cheering from the stands.  And so it went.  There were groans if an answer was missed, and cheering for every right answer.
Grade 3 was next.  Surprisingly, the parents misspelled “atmosphere,” but the students got it right!  When asked what helps an organism survive, the parents missed with “habitat.”  The students were correct with “adaptation.”
One of the questions was: What were the two New Year’s resolutions given by principal Sister Constance Bayeur?  The answer: Greet each other, and have tolerance.
And so it went – all through the night.
Mrs. Livsey said the students outperformed the parents and it was a wonderful way for the 150 students to begin Catholic Schools Week.
Power family gives Adopt-A -Student scholarship

A scholarship in the name of J.D. Power III has been established for the Adopt-A-Student Program, according to Robert Pape, chairman.
The scholarship will be funded by a $50,000 donation over two years by the Power family. It is the second to Adopt-A-Student Program from the Power family, who donated $50,000 in 2008, Mr. Pape said
“We are grateful to the Power family for their support  of the Adopt-A-Student Program,” he said.
David Power is a Worcester native. He graduated from St. Peter Elementary and High schools and the College of the Holy Cross. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania
He is the founder of J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information firm that conducts independent and unbiased surveys of customer satisfaction, product quality and buyer behavior. It is now a part of the McGraw Hill Companies.
The Adopt-A-Student program provides tuition assistance to those families who wish to have their children educated in the tradition and environment of Catholic schools but are financially unable to do so.
The program has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling more than $3,000,000 since its founding in 1989 by  Bishop Harrington.
The program supports students in the four diocesan Central Catholic Schools; Holy Name Central Catholic Jr. /Sr. High School, St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School, St. Peter Central Catholic Elementary School and St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic Jr./Sr. High School.