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Students Celebrate Catholic Schools Week - KOAM TV 7

Students Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

    Area catholic schools come together to celebrate national catholic schools week.    

The smaller school populations can create challenges that call for sacrifices many are willing to make.

St. Mary’s church filled with five hundred catholic students today for an all school mass. They represent five schools from Joplin, Pierce city, Carthage and Monett.  Several with a school population less than one hundred students which creates financial challenges.

Fr. J. Friedel, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle and St. Ann’s parishes says, "I think that to say that we've never struggled in our one hundred forty plus year history of having catholic schools would be a lie because we always struggle. But struggle is part of it.  But what matters to you, you make the sacrifice to make it happen."

Fr. J. says that includes teachers who make a choice to work here at about thirty percent less pay than public schools.

St. Peter’s Middle school reading teacher Andrea Svec says, "Our class size is wonderfully small. We love that about our school.  But of course with class sizes the way they are, we are also kind of on a lean budget cause we're small. So none of us are really here for the money,” she laughs. “We love it. We truly do, bringing God into our classroom every day."

St. Ann’s school principal Bonnie Schaeffer says, "You can’t be here if you want a high salary first, for sure." 

Schaeffer is a twenty-five year catholic school veteran, and says five of her teaching staff are former St. Ann's students.The combined first and second grade class played a game to demonstrate the corporal works of mercy today. During ‘win it in a minute’ they were racing with beans to buckets to learn about feeding the poor.

 The schools help students maintain their catholic identity in an area where Catholics make up only four percent of the population.

Paying for catholic school takes contributions from parishes and tuition fees from parents.

Fr. J. says it’s a sacrifice for some parents.  "They could get some of that for free in the public school, but it’s worth that sacrifice for them because of the exposure that the kids get to extra instruction in the faith."

And Svec says, "We worry year to year a little bit about how to make ends meet. We definitely rely on grants, the generosity of our parents, and the generosity of our parishioners."

This week they are ‘Challenged to Proclaim God's Mercy’, the theme of Catholic Schools Week. But that’s something staffers say they are glad to do every day.

Schaeffer says, "For me to be in an environment where I can pray and serve God, there’s nothing better than that."

Schools will be holding student appreciation days this week along with a catholic quiz bowl.

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