All of the Faith in Action classes have now settled on their service projects for the second trimester. Eighth grade has a standing field trip to serve lunch at Father Joe’s Village and is also planning a March 1 service retreat here at Saint John School. They have invited three other schools’ eighth graders to attend, including St. Mary Star of the Sea, Oceanside; St. Francis, Vista; and Notre Dame Academy, Carmel Valley. The parish youth minister, Isaac Deken, comes into class every Monday to work with the students in planning this. The retreat will be centered on doing Works of Mercy– this year’s Faith in Action focus– so there will be service stations where kids will bake cookies for Kairos; make Easter cards for people who are sick or shut-in; and make blankets for homeless people. All of the Saint John eighth graders will participate as well, but just the kids in 8th grade FIA will be planning and leading it.
Seventh grade FIA students will volunteer at the Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas in early February, and, meanwhile, they have begun helping the kindergartners with reading and other little projects. They will continue to spend the last half hour of each class doing this each week.
“Placing students in this role model/leadership position brings out the absolute best in each one of them (and the little kids– as you can imagine– love it),” said Mrs. Teresa Roberts, the Faith in Action teacher. “It is truly a joy to see them working together.”
Several seventh and sixth grade Garden Club members also continue their work after school on Wednesdays to plant, tend, and harvest fresh produce for the parish pantry. This program is coordinated by Mrs. Jennifer Doogan, and Mrs. Jen Savant is very involved in working with the student gardeners.
In sixth grade, the class decided to raise money to supplement the Corazon program (supporting the education of 16 1st through 8th graders in Mexico) lemonade stand sales by sponsoring Penny Wars for middle schoolers during Catholic Schools Week. They will be working hard over the next few weeks to organize and promote the project. Once that project is over, the class will be helping second graders with reading in the last half hour of each class in the month of February. They will also be touring the parish food pantry.
Even the journalism field trip this year is incorporating some Faith in Action by including a tour of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Started by a Jesuit priest, Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries provides training and support to former gang members and people who have been incarcerated in order to redirect their lives and allow them to become contributing members of the community.
“Without a doubt, Father Greg has taken the Work of Mercy to visit the imprisoned up several notches,” said Mrs. Roberts. “The love of God is palpable at Homeboy Industries and uplifting not just to the people who receive services there but also to the entire community by running businesses to give people jobs and dignity.”
The new Mini-Vinnie group, which was started by Saint John alumna Sabrina C. (now a senior at Cathedral Catholic) for students ages 13 to 18, was also very involved in serving at Christmas by baking cookies and decorating crosses for the parish baskets and volunteering at the Brother Benno’s Christmas event for children.
“We baked 400 cookies each time we met,” said eighth grader Mia H. “It made me feel super happy to be able to give back to the community without having to do something really hard-core and strenuous.”
Outside service opportunities are also coming up, including the San Diego Walk for Life on Saturday,Jan 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 6th and Laurel in Balboa Park. Our bishop, Robert McElroy, will be one of the speakers there. Middle schoolers interested in helping with Miracle League on Sat., April 21, can sign up with Mrs. Roberts. Miracle League is a very inspiring baseball league for children and teens with physical and mental challenges.
“I can’t even express how inspiring it is for me to witness firsthand the great compassion and generosity of so many students demonstrated in their eagerness to participate in service and even take on extra responsibilities,” said Mrs. Roberts. “I know that the seeds of these selfless actions are sown and nurtured at home. I am so thankful that families are giving this priceless gift to their children, our school, and our world.”