by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – On March 9, students at St. Patrick’s School here put away their textbooks, clearing their desks for something more important.
They spent the whole day immersed in the Catholic faith.
“I want our children to have a better understanding of their faith,” said St. Patrick’s director Tim Conrad. “I want us as a school to teach the relevance of our faith – the true meaning.”
Conrad created the day, dubbed “Nothing But Faith”, after conversations he had with alumni and parents.
“They talked about how much they got out of coming to school here at St. Pat’s,” he said. “But some things they didn’t learn while they were here.”
Although the school strives to teach Catholicism, Conrad said it is not always possible to delve into more complex subjects.
“There’s so much relevant information that we don’t cover,” he explained. “This is an opportunity to deepen our religious education.
“And as a Catholic school, making time for that is what we need to do.”
St. Patrick plans to hold an “Only Faith Day” once a quarter to increase understanding of complicated religious issues.
Conrad made a general plan for the day and asked the teachers to create their own activities and projects for their students.
Each level covered something different – from the suffering of Jesus on the cross to the Divine Mercy Rosary to the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Jennifer Watkins’ freshman class discovered the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
She hoped to continue discussing the subject throughout Lent and the rest of the school year.
“I think it’s important to foster that community of faith in our kids so that as they grow up it becomes part of their lives,” Watkins said.
“If we start early and start developing those key feelings of faith and prayer, it becomes a habit,” she continued. “And once it becomes a habit, they will continue through their teenage years.”
Watkins said “Nothing But Faith” is an example of why she loves St. Patrick.
“I work in a Catholic school on purpose because I want to work with faith,” she said. “I want to be able to talk about God and love.
“I love teaching first grade because they embrace it fully and with such open surrender. It’s wonderful.”
Father Mark Mertes, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, was thrilled with the idea.
“I think having a ‘Nothing But Faith’ day is a great way to celebrate the mission of Catholic schools,” he said.
“Sir. Conrad’s decision also frees up teachers to be creative and try new projects and activities specific to our Catholic identity,” he said.
Father Mertes was impressed as he walked around the school, checking each class’s projects.
He hoped the day would have a ripple effect for the community of St. Patrick.
“I hope that when children share what they are doing in school,” he said, “moms, dads and siblings will also see their faith enriched.”