SpiritThe Spirit newsletter is looking for new members who enjoy writing. This is an easy way to offer your stewardship service! The staff meets only four times each year to develop the content for this important parish communication tool. At quarterly editorial meetings, writers are assigned topics and have six to eight weeks to work at their leisure and submit articles for publication. Please contact Deacon Barry Midwood via phone at 610-321-1200 or email bmidwood@stelizabethparish.org. Help us bring the news about our active community to all of our parishioners!

PreK logo FINAL v2Saint Elizabeth Parish School is excited to expand its scope with a new Pre-Kindergarten program for the 2019-2020 school year. Open to all children who reach age 4 by September 1, 2019, the program offers high-quality early learning, enriched with an introduction to the Catholic faith.

 “We believe that faith nurtured early lasts a lifetime,” said Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Children effortlessly give and receive love at this age, which allows them to quickly develop a deep relationship with God and a commitment to the Catholic faith. Because our school is a family-based community, the Pre-K4 program will naturally reinforce these notions at an earlier age.”

 Children attending the Pre-K4 program this year will gain exposure to creative arts, language and literacy, math and science, in addition to social and emotional development. Each day will provide a balanced variety of learning opportunities. Children will engage in both individual and social play time, pre-reading and writing activities, mathematics and physical development, as well as lunch and prayer time.

 The curriculum will emphasize age-appropriate and active, project-based activities, all under the umbrella of the Church. Celebrations of important Catholic seasons and feasts will be introduced, along with faith concepts presented in a developmentally relevant style.

 “Our students will engage in faith-based, cross-curricular learning that develops their Catholic identity,” added Dr. Greco. “They will be exposed to God's word through bible stories and many of the sacramentals as they begin to understand the meaning behind Catholic doctrine and a better understanding of Church traditions.”

 The Pre-K4 program is also flexible, affording parents several different scheduling options, including five full days a week; three full days; five half days or three half days.

 Visit the school website at www.stelizabethparishschool.org/prek4 to learn more about the exciting Pre-K4 program at Saint Elizabeth Parish School. You can review the readiness guidelines and class objectives, or submit an admission inquiry form. You may also call 610-646-6540 to schedule a tour.

-Julia Krumenacker

Cicm LogoCICM (the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) is a Roman Catholic missionary congregation. Members devote themselves to serve the poor and marginalized people of foreign culture in order to bring the good news of Jesus Christ wherever it is most needed. Established in 1862, their motto, One Heart and One Soulexemplifies their mission of living in solidarity with the people they serve. Over the past 150 years, more than 3,000 men have dedicated their lives to the CICM, leaving their familiar surroundings and integrating themselves into the lives of the poorest people, sharing in their hopes, dreams and sufferings. Their work is intended to create lasting spiritual and material transformation. More than 850 CICM missionary priests and brothers currently live and work in 20 different remote countries around the world. They continue the tradition of caring for God's poorest and most neglected people, sharing the hope and comfort of the Gospel.

~Julia Krumenacker

FrAndrew 20190720 (1)CAPTION: In June, we welcomed Father Andrew Labatorio as the second Parochial Vicar of Saint Elizabeth Parish.

June marked the arrival of our new Parochial Vicar, Father Andrew Labatorio, known to us as Father Andrew.

So who is Father Andrew?

Born and raised in the Philippines and one of 14 children (he is number eight), he describes his family as crazy, but happy. Having a Baptist father and Catholic mother, he grew up practicing both faiths. His parents believed in providing a strong education, so he attended a Catholic school and had many Catholic friends. Following high school, he decided to enter the seminary, but was particularly drawn to missionary work. Through the influence of the Dominican Nuns, his high school mentors, he decided to enter the CICM (the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), an international religious missionary institute. Father Andrew was both baptized and confirmed on the same day, just a few weeks before beginning his seminary life.

“At first, I just wanted to be a missionary,” he explained. “I later agreed to try the seminary life, which was very much like a normal collegiate experience. I was allowed to go out with friends and socialize. At the same time, I had spiritual formation, and I eventually made the commitment to enter the priesthood.”

He admits his mother was not initially thrilled with his decision. “It was not like a fairy tale,” he said. “She wanted me to become an architect or to choose a career with better financial options. During a family dinner at one of my first breaks, I was very excited telling about my seminary experiences. My mother commented that I was just wasting my time. My father, always full of wisdom, defended me. His words remain a source of strength to me to this day. He said to my mother, 'You have 14 children, can you not give one to God as a gift?' His words put everything into the right perspective.”

After 12 years of formation he became a priest at age 30. The CICM requires mission experience outside of one's own country so Father Andrew traveled to Haiti, where he spent 16 years. The first two years was an internship and a time of discernment. “Those two years made me love the missionary life so I decided to take perpetual vows and a few months later I was ordained a priest” he explained.

When reflecting upon his time in Haiti, he noted that striking a balance between social work and pastoral work was his biggest challenge. “Haiti is a very poor country and people expected more from a missionary than the sacramental part,” he noted. “Their basic human needs were not always being met (particularly following the earthquake in 2010) so they needed someone to bring hope in terms of their physical well-being. Yet, being poor, their faith was stronger. They trusted God more.”

Father Andrew ran clinics in Haiti that welcomed doctors from the United States as well as high school students on a mission trip. “I used to tell them, 'This is not so much about what you can do for Haiti but what Haiti can do for you. Just because you have so much, it doesn't mean you have nothing to receive and just because someone doesn't have anything, that doesn't mean they have nothing to give. There is always an exchange of experience and these relationships can open up new ways of understanding and thinking about life. Many kids who came to Haiti from the United States were so inspired by the joyful and humble aspirations of young Haitians who had nothing. These students often experienced a 360 degree change in the way they looked at life.”

Now that he is in the States, Father Andrew looks forward to working as a parochial vicar. “I am here to serve in my own capacity, in my own way,” he said. “My time here will also serve as a learning experience for me. I hope to contribute to the spiritual well-being of Saint Elizabeth Parish. I learned from the people of Haiti how to envision solutions together, especially in times of crisis. I hope I can bring some of that experience to this parish and help Saint Elizabeth be a source of hope to other people. I hope I can bring people closer to God.”

In his spare time Father Andrew enjoys reading, fishing, nature and the outdoors. Welcome, Father Andrew!

~Julia Krumenacker

Confirmation 1Our parish children have traditionally received the Sacrament of Confirmation in grade 6. Last year the Archdiocese of Philadelphia raised the preferred age of those celebrating the sacrament to grade 7 or grade 8. Saint Elizabeth, as well as most Chester County parishes, are now preparing children to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation in grade 7. “This decision provided an opportunity for us to look at our Confirmation preparatory programs both at the parish school and in our Elementary Faith Formation (EFF) program,” says Gen Miceli, Director of Parish Services.  

As a result, several changes were made to the religious education curriculum during the 2018-2019 school year. From September through December, grade 6 students in our parish school and EFF programs focused on the Old Testament. During the spring semester, January through May, specific Confirmation preparation began with a program called Chosen developed by Ascension Press.

Dr. Diane Greco, Saint Elizabeth Parish School principal, explains, “While designed to enhance peer discussion, Chosen also has a video component allowing parents to view the education segments at home and continue the conversation with their children.”

This past spring, Confirmation candidates were also introduced to an activities component of Confirmation preparation. “As the children prepare for their final Sacrament of Initiation, we hope to help them find the connection between learning about their Catholic faith in the classroom and living out their Catholic faith in their daily lives,” says Anne Polese, Elementary Faith Formation coordinator.

Students were given a list of stewardship service activities and prayer/worship experiences and asked to participate in at least one selection from each category. Prayer/worship options included attending a Saturday Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, attending a retreat at Bishop Shanahan High School, going to the Lenten Living Stations of the Cross or participating in Holy Week liturgies, to name a few. Stewardship service activities listed items such as participating in the Martin Luther King or Stewardship Days of Service, assisting the Good Works team, helping with the Lenten Soup Supper or Knights of Columbus clothing drive, lending voices to a parish choir, and many more.

This September, sacramental preparation for the grade 7 Confirmation candidates will continue with both classroom and activity related programming. New this year, students who participate in the EFF program have the option of Confirmation classes on Sunday mornings from 10:30-11:30 AM. This scheduling will allow candidates and their families to attend Mass together at either 9:30 AM or 11:30 AM.

For more information, check out the EFF section of the parish website: www.stelizabethparish.org. Go to the Education menu and select Elementary Faith Formation. At the 9:30 AM Mass on Sunday, January 12, 2020, there will be a special blessing for all those preparing for Confirmation and at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 28, 2020, Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald will celebrate Confirmation for Saint Elizabeth candidates.

May we support with our prayers all the young people who are preparing to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.                                                                           

-Amy Giampietro

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