The parental blessing within the Rite of Baptism affirms that “parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of the faith.” The parish supports parents in this sacred responsibility through the Saint Elizabeth Parish School, the parish Elementary Faith Formation (EFF) Program and the parish Youth Ministry Program.  All three programs seek to help the children and young adults of our parish community on their faith journey to become life-long Catholics who embrace the gifts of the Holy Spirit and reflect the stewardship values so important to all parishioners.

Andrew Shirker, who teachers seventh and eighth grade religion classes at Saint Elizabeth Parish School, explains that his goal is to connect the life of “Jesus the Man” to the experiences of his students. By drawing connections between their lives and the stories of the Gospels, his students find ways to live their faith each day. He knows that as the teen years approach his students will face many challenging decisions. He is hopeful that they will lean on the lessons of their faith to make good choices and turn to God when they make mistakes. Andrew says, “They don't need to stand up and preach to everyone; their actions and how they treat other people will show just what their faith is all about.” He believes that guiding his students to realize they can demonstrate their faith each day by the way they live is the most important lesson they can take from his classroom.

The EFF Program provides opportunities to students who are enrolled in public schools to grow in their Catholic faith as a source of strength and comfort. Fifth grade catechist, MH Taylor, reports that despite the distance learning format used during this pandemic year she was able to engage her students in thoughtful discussions. Her goal is to make classes fun and interesting in order to “create curiosity, encourage students to regularly attend Mass and to participate as part of the Saint Elizabeth community.”  Throughout the year she provided craft supplies to engage her students’ artistic talents. One craft, a decorative monstrance, helped emphasize the importance and beauty of Adoration.  Her Zoom sessions sometimes featured guest speakers, like Deacon Barry or Father Kevin. Each class was focused on how to provide students with a different perspective on their faith and how to help them grow in their faith.

The Youth Ministry Program provides a safe and supportive place for students in grades seven through twelve to explore and practice their faith.  Our Parish Youth Ministry Coordinator, Megan Carey, focuses program activities on three areas: stewardship, discipleship and spirituality. Agape Latte Saturdays, where the students attend the Vigil Mass and then gather for snacks and discussion afterward, provide a chance for the high schoolers to talk about scripture, learn about prayer and make their faith their own. One recent discussion focused on Psalm 23 and was especially enjoyable and engaging for the youth. Partnering with other ministries in the parish, Megan’s goal is “to show the kids the many ways parishioners can participate as part of the Saint Elizabeth community.”  During this year the Youth Ministry Program has worked together with the Knights of Columbus, the Family Life Ministry Team and the Crafting Hands Ministry to assemble toiletry bags for Saint John’s Hospice, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless in Kensington and provide hand-made Christmas cards to Father Kevin to send to children in Nigeria.

One benefit from all of these programs is that they spill over into family faith life as well. Of course, the biggest gift that comes from the work these teachers, catechists and ministers do is giving a foundation of faith that will guide our children and young adults for years to come. We are all grateful for their dedicated service.

  • Elizabeth Kazanjian

Despite the many obstacles brought forth by the pandemic, Saint Elizabeth Parish School was proud to be able to uphold many of their annual traditions throughout the past school year. Students attended school in-person for the entire year, with only three weeks of virtual instruction due to quarantine issues.

“Not that I would look forward to doing this again, but this experience has reinforced that when the student body, faculty and parents all work together as a team, we can make things happen,” said Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Our students were fortunate to have the opportunity to be with each other in person, which I feel created a new appreciation for school and an improved work ethic.”

While many schools around the country were forced to halt their traditional non-academic activities, staff and students at Saint Elizabeth Parish School worked to keep most of them in place. “Wherever there was a work-around, we tried our best to do it,” said Dr. Greco. “We had to change the format of many of the activities, but we made sure they were inclusive events in which all students could participate.”

These traditions included a virtual Back to School night, the annual kickball tournament, the installation Mass for the National Junior Honor Society, a virtual Christmas concert, Catholic Schools Week, a school-wide pizza bingo event, the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday.  The parish school children in grades two and seven participated in the parish celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation this spring, too.

“We held our annual school-wide pizza bingo and realized the format change was actually very positive. In lieu of a sold-out crowd when this event was held in the evening, all students were able to participate since we held it during school via the PA system. The gym was filled with prizes and students from grade 8 were stationed at each classroom door helping to run the games. It turned out to be such a fun event,” added Dr. Greco. “Our Student Council and National Junior Honor Society remained active so that all grades participated in Christmas projects as well as service projects. The Yearbook committee remained in full swing and all of our students have a yearbook to commemorate the school year.”

She went on to say, “The most meaningful event was being able to present the Living Stations of the Cross, which is a big tradition. This was a milestone because we filled the entire church with students socially-distanced and masked. We had only four practices due to a 14 day quarantine of the eighth grade, but the students executed everything perfectly. I was so proud of them. This wasn't a show or performance; it was a truly prayerful service. The older students were aware that they were demonstrating the Passion of Jesus for the younger students during this very moving event and they did it so well. It was such a hopeful celebration.”

In conclusion Dr. Greco remarked, “Although there were many challenges a great team spirit was built along the way. We had 60 people, between staff members and volunteers, who worked hard to keep the school going this year. Teachers and substitute teachers really stepped up and helped make things happen for our students, especially when fellow teachers were forced to quarantine. The care and support our entire school community put forth was very heartwarming. Being constantly vigilant is emotionally challenging but everyone recognized that the only way to make things work was to work together.”

Students and staff at Saint Elizabeth Parish School have also curated a book entitled, “The Year without Basketball Nets” which includes each student's reflections on the historical 2020-2021 school year!

  • Julia Krumenacker

The Saint Elizabeth family now has two new members on the parish staff. Eve Hill and Kathleen Brady are working together to support essential and effective communications for the church and the parish school. Although they each focus on a unique part of the parish operations (church and school), you will find them sharing ideas and even an office in the Saint Elizabeth Education Center. Eve is on site on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Kathleen is present on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Eve Hill, Parish Communications Coordinator, supports all of the promotion and awareness initiatives for the various ministries and organizations at Saint Elizabeth. She maintains the parish website, updates the social media accounts and creates the Parish Digest (electronic bulletin) each week. She also manages the scheduling and training of the volunteers who operate the video system in church. You may even find her behind a camera during a live-stream broadcast.

Eve came to our parish from St. Maximillian Kolbe in West Chester where she worked in the Religious Education office. Previously she was a floral designer and worked in computer support. Eve said, “I use my organization skills, technology background and creative nature every day. The combination of my previous three positions have prepared me well for this one! ”

Eve and her husband, Kevin were married at Saint Joseph Church in Downingtown in March, 2002. They have two children, Moira (17) and Owen (12).  Eve concludes, “I’m excited to be working at such an amazing and vibrant parish.”

Kathleen Brady, Coordinator of Communications and Advancement for Saint Elizabeth Parish School, supports all of the promotion and awareness initiatives for Saint Elizabeth Parish School. She also maintains the school website and social media accounts. Kathleen takes a lead role with Saint Elizabeth Parish School media relations and creates the school Weekly Communications Digest.

Most recently, Kathleen was working at home, raising her daughter and doing free-lance design, calligraphy and photography. She earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Communications from Cabrini University, and previously worked full time in Catholic education development, rebranding, marketing and fundraising. “I am passionate about Catholic Education. Aside from its reputation for academic excellence, Catholic education instills strong spiritual and moral values today, ensuring a principled society, and our congregation of tomorrow,” explains Kathleen. “I hope this fervor matched with my experience in development, photography, design, and writing helps to tell the story of the children attending our parish school, while portraying the many innovations in the classroom, projects and success stories we have to share.”

Kathleen has been parishioner at Saint Elizabeth for 6 years and her daughter, Ciara, attends Kindergarten at the parish school.

Communication nurtures community, so we are fortunate and are sure to benefit as a parish family from the enthusiastic work of our communications team. Be sure to check out our website as these two communications professionals keep us informed about everything that is happening at our parish and parish school.

  • Elisa Sheronas

One hundred twenty-nine Saint Elizabeth young people received the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, April 24.  Bishop Edward Deliman presided at the 10:00 AM Confirmation Mass, while our pastor, Father Thomas Mullin, celebrated the 1:00 PM Confirmation Mass.

Candidates for Confirmation began their journey of Christian initiation with their parents’ decision to present them for Baptism and they have been getting ready for this special time since their First Holy Communions. Formal preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation takes place in grades 6 and 7.

Four of those who are preparing displayed impressive maturity as they reflected on the importance of their decision to become responsible members of the Catholic Church and how it impacts their faith journeys.

Grace Kroboth – Grade 7: “Receiving Confirmation this spring won’t change the way I think about being a Catholic, but more of how I feel as a Catholic.  It will make me prouder of my faith.  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are going to be very important throughout high school, college and the rest of my life.  There are a lot of difficult decisions that come with getting older and these gifts will help me to know and choose right from wrong”.  Her parents, Eileen and Tony Kroboth, commented, “We are so proud of Grace for her diligence in learning about her faith. To us, her Confirmation means that she is ready for whatever may come next on her journey, ready to move forward in faith.”

 

Zach Slade – Grade 7: “I didn’t really know how special Confirmation is and preparing to receive the sacrament this year has made me into a better person and Catholic.  It gives me a goal to stay on this path for the rest of my life. This experience feels like promising God to be actively participating as a Catholic.  I’m excited to keep living my life growing in faith.” His mother, Yesenia, added, “Confirmation is a very important stepping-stone in my son’s Catholic life.”

 

Chase Voigt – Grade 6: “When I receive the Sacrament of Confirmation next year, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit will help me live like a Christian in this complicated world. I will be better able to understand my role in God’s family and become a more active participant in my faith.”  His mother, Nicole, said, “As parents, we chose to raise our children in the Catholic faith.  As candidates for Confirmation, they are choosing to remain and continue in that faith. We are both proud and blessed that our children value Catholicism as we do.”

 

Monica Young – Grade 7: “Being a candidate for Confirmation this year means that I am prepared to take the next step in my journey and do what I can to continue growing in my faith. It will change the way I think about being a Catholic by giving me the courage and strength to live out my faith in the world.” Her mother, Kathleen, said, “It is the end of Monica’s Elementary Faith Formation instruction, but just the beginning of her being an active and practicing member of the Saint Elizabeth community. I hope that Monica will continue to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to care for the people around her and be a strong witness of Jesus.”

Young people like these in our parish family give us hope for the future. May God bless them, their parents and sponsors and all who were confirmed during the Easter Season.

  • Lisa Sheronas

As Saint Elizabeth Parish School entered the new year, classroom dynamics still looked much different than in years past. However, the fundamental spirit of Catholic school education remains present, now more than ever.

“This is a time when people's spirits have actually been re-built,” noted Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, what will never get lost in Catholic school education is our deep investment in community. All of us (parents, students and staff) have had to bond together and agree to the virus mitigation strategies in order to keep our school operational and to sustain our ability to educate and learn. As we have faced adversity together, that bond has grown stronger.”

This year, Catholic Schools Week was carried out in mid-February and included all the long-established activities like student appreciation day, faculty-staff appreciation day, student pizza bingo, a book fair and, unique this year,  a virtual open house tour. Under the leadership of the National Junior Honor Society and the Student Council, students carried out the customary service component by collecting donated items and making blessing bags, which were distributed to local food pantries. While the format of this annual celebration was significantly changed, students were still able to engage in these time-honored pursuits under the theme: Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service.

“One of the reasons we celebrate this week publicly and invite families to visit our school each year is to remind people of the many reasons Catholic education matters,” said Dr. Greco. “It is a time to see how our faith connects to everything in life. The values of civic service, self-discipline and respect for others shine through in the opportunities we provide to our students. We teach them not simply to understand their religion, but to think for themselves, which is faith in action.”

“Educating the whole child is more important now than ever,” continued Dr. Greco. “We are still able to engage in the arts, physical education and balance faith in our daily lives. Because we have worked together, we have been able to keep going, remaining a springboard for many young lives.”

“This year may look a lot different, but all the important pillars of Catholic school education remain in place,” she added. “In fact, because we are such a strong, deeply-invested community, we have been able to work together to give our students everything they needed to continue their education effectively. As a school, we have bonded significantly. The pandemic has helped us to see all the positive things we have. The students are truly happy to be here. They feel safe and cared for, and as a result, their cooperation and level of responsibility have grown. The staff has had to adjust to changing times, so we have grown as well. We have faced these difficult times together, and everyone has risen to the challenge with a great new sense of camaraderie.”

  • Julia Krumenacker

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