Come and See! Over twenty Freshmen Students met last week to become members of a new group called the O'Ambassador Club. Benedictine Academy has been selected as one of the high schools across the globe to learn about the multitude of issues confronting our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia. It is a joint project of Oprah's Angel Network and Free the Children designed to empower young people to help one another. They will be studying issues such as poverty, education, the environment and sustainable health. Their challenge as leaders is to share ideas and find solutions that can make a difference in their own lives and someone else's. "Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom." (Oprah Winfrey.) The Campus Ministers, the Blue Angels, will be leading and guiding their younger classmates into action!
16 February, 2008
A group of Seniors visited the Papermill Playhouse on Wednesday, February 13, the morning after the ice storm to see Miracle Worker. Helen Keller is a familiar story that continues to be an inspiration to all of us. Blind and deaf, she persevered to overcome her world of darkness and to come into the light. A College graduate, Helen Keller was a woman of tremendous courage and strength. May we each walk in the hope and faith that there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome with God at our side.
This past Monday, February 11th was the 150th celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes. It was in 1858 that the Virgin Mary Immaculate appeared to a young girl named Bernadette near Lourdes in France eighteen times. Through this humble girl, Mary called sinners to conversion and to a life of prayer and charity. In honor of this special time, Pope Benedict has declared that anyone visiting a Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes will receive indulgences. Our Blue Angels, a Campus Ministry Team dedicated to Our Lady, went on an all day pilgrimage Monday visiting Our Lady of Lourdes Churches in Mountainside and in the Oranges.
A special stop was made at St. Joseph's Shrine in Stirling to remember those who had died in the Twin Towers collapse on September 11. Mary had a blessing waiting for them! As they entered chapel to pray the Divine Office, there was a gentlemen in a blue ski jacket praying in one of the pews. They asked if he would join them and he said he would be delighted. This beautiful man was Bishop Frank Rodimer, retired Bishop of the Paterson Diocese! Bishop Rodimer gave the girls a special blessing with Lourdes holy water after sharing the story of Bernadette and morning prayer.
We celebrated Ash Wednesday as a school community by making our annual pilgrimmage to St. Catherine of Siena Church. Father Aurelio Yanez, a dear friend to Benedictine Academy, welcomed us with open arms. Emilie and Cynthia, freshmen students, were altar servers and upper classmen Angelica and Pamella were readers of the Word. Ashes were distributed by Father Yanez, accompanied by our Sister Germaine, Sister Martin-Elizabeth and Sister Donna Jo.
As a Green Faith School community, we have begun our 40 day Lenten Challenge to fast from destroying the earth. Each day, Campus Ministers share a hot tip on how teens can save the earth! Today's hot tip was “lower the thermostat”. By lowering our thermostat this winter by only 2 degrees, we can save 353 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year. This means as a school community, we can reduce carbon dioxide by over 70, 000 lbs. a year. Together we can make a difference so lower the thermostat and save our earth! The Environmental club, our Green Faith club, and the Campus Ministers are also working together to raise alms for the planting of trees in much needed areas overseas.
The Blue Angels and Sisters on a Mission, the Junior and Senior Campus Ministers, joined their classmates and the Staff in praying a Living Rosary at St. Walburga Monastery on the first Friday of Lent. Each decade of the Rosary was comprised of students/staff of a different grade. The Our Father beads were led in various languages as we prayed for the needs of humanity across the continents. We give special thanks to Sister Donna Jo's congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia, for providing rosary beads for everyone in our school community. Jasmine Durr's, our Senior Gospel Choir Director, voice touched our souls in her sweet gentle rendition of the Hail Mary sung between each decade.
In Campus Ministry, a day does not go by that students are not listening to the beautiful voices of their peers. As part of the Senior Religion Curriculum, Creating a Christian Lifestyle, every student is required to either publish a book or make a recording. This year, Jasmine Durr, Christine Jean-Baptiste, Zandria Askew and Janella Anderson each recorded their own wonderful CD giving thanks and praise to God at VIP Recording Studios in Kennelworth. Songs ranged from Lamb of God to Wind Beneath my Wings to G-O-D (rap). Meanwhile Crystal Orr and Kejandra Sharpe made a DVD recording of their elegant dancing giving praise to the Lord. Benedictine Academy is very interested in developing the Arts as well as providing a challenging college-prep curriculum.
On Fat Tuesday, Benedictine Academy had a dual celebration for the entire school community. It is our annual tradition for the Language Departments to recognize and embrace the many different nationalities of our school, while Campus Ministry prepares for Lent by the hosting of a Mardi Gras celebration. Following in the footsteps of St. Benedict, we begin all things with prayer. This year we prayed in a special way for an end to human trafficking and peace in our war-torn world. Jennifer de Andrade had a quiet prayer to win the one-of-a-kind hand-painted coconut that is raffled off each Mardi Gras. God heard and answered her prayer! Everyone shared in laughter and joined together as one sacred community as our Sophomore students led the entire school in the coconut conga. A wonderful kick-off for the informative lectures from our guest speakers on the various cultures of the world including Spain, Portugal, Phillipines, Africa, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few.