By Karen Clifford
SOUTH BEND — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades gave students of St. Anthony de Padua School a history lesson on a great naval battle during his homily at Mass while visiting the school on Oct. 7. During the Battle of Lepanto, the bishop noted, the greatest arsenal of Christian nations in Europe against the Ottoman Empire came from praying the rosary.
Bishop Rhoades explained that during the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire controlled the Mediterranean Sea and wanted to destroy European countries because of their strong Christian faith. Pope Pius V called on Christian nations to build ships so they could defend Europe and the Church.
Pope Pius V knew the Ottoman navy outnumbered the European navy so he called on every Christian to pray the rosary and ask for the intercession of the Blessed Mother. On Oct. 7, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto, which lasted five hours, resulted in victory for the Christian navy. The pope, in thanksgiving for this victory, declared a feast day that today is called Our Lady of the Rosary.
In addition to the rosary’s beautiful prayers, Bishop Rhoades stressed that Mary directs us to Jesus in the 20 mysteries that are mediated on while reciting the rosary.
“We call upon Mary to favor us just like the Christians facing battle. By meditating on the mysteries, Mary always points to Jesus,” said Bishop Rhoades.
Praying and meditating on the rosary is a distinct instruction of Catholic education. Father David Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish, stressed that Catholic identity taught in school is an opportunity to encounter the sacred.
“When young minds learn about the created world it leads them closer to the Creator. When young people learn about visible realities, which can be seen, it leads them to deeper questions about invisible realities, which cannot be seen,” Father Ruppert emphasized.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me’ and that’s what we do in this school. St. Anthony School is a family of families and so each student is an important part of that bigger family. We enlighten them body, mind and spirit with the One who is the Light of the World, Jesus,” he added.
Approximately 130 new students are being added to the bigger family of St. Anthony School this year, according to school Principal Chad Barwick. Along with this addition of students comes the need for added space on the St. Anthony campus.
“We have expanded our pre-K to have two full classes for four and five year olds, and have renovated our former multipurpose room to house the additional 20 students. In addition, our parish has graciously let us use the church meeting room to house our prekindergarten 3 during the week,” said Barwick.
“Our new lunchroom is in our parish hall, which means our entire school is experiencing growing pains looking for space to stretch out. This move was essential, as we have started a five-day a week hot lunch program,” Barwick noted.
The campus gymnasium, affectionately referred to as “The Jungle,” is being renovated with plans to refinish the gym floor, remodel the locker rooms, and construct a larger storage area on the south side of the building.
In addition to increased student enrollment and campus renovations, new programs that help faculty assist students have begun. Teachers Gisella Foust and Mary Ann Slavik finished a yearlong program at the University of Notre Dame last year to earn certificates in English as a New Language (ENL) instruction.
“Their studies are critical to our mission to welcome all students to our Catholic school, no matter what their background,” said Barwick. “These teachers are working to assist our faculty in discovering new techniques in teaching students from homes where English is not the primary language.”
Foust observed that the ENL program taught various techniques and strategies to help all students and teachers become accepting of various nationalities and cultures from around the world and within their own homes.
Besides working with individual classroom teachers, Foust and Slavik plan to help their colleagues develop lessons that include effective strategies that will work well with ENL students.
“We are also developing plans to test incoming students for language proficiency and begin home visits so that teachers can gain critical background information about ENL students and their families, especially those that are new to our school,” Slavik explained.
Father Ruppert summed up the philosophy of administrators, teachers and students of St. Anthony School: “Our motto here is ‘Words teach, actions speak.’ I want our school to not just whisper, ‘We are Catholic,’ but to scream ‘We are Catholic!’”
St. Anthony de Padua School statistics
Pastor — Father David Ruppert
Principal — Chad Barwick
Faculty members — 25
Teacher aides — 7
Preschool enrollment for 2011-2012— 50
Kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment for 2011-2012 —339
Web address: www.stanthony.org
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