September 2, 2014 // Local

Bishop’s first visit of school year to Sacred Heart, Warsaw

Sacred Heart kindergarten teacher Monica Smith presents Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades with a card signed by all the students when he visited their classroom on Aug. 20. The students are learning the sign of the cross and every time they hear a siren go off from the nearby fire or police station they stop and say a prayer.

WARSAW — Students, staff and administrators at Sacred Heart School in Warsaw kicked off their school year with a visit from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. The students had only been back to class about a week, but for some, like the preschoolers, it was mere hours when Bishop Rhoades visited on Aug. 20.

Bishop Rhoades celebrated 8 a.m. Mass with students, faculty and parishioners prior to his school visit.

He told those assembled for Mass, “I’m so happy to be with you to celebrate Mass and visit your school — this is my first school visit of the academic year, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Sacred Heart School.”

During the bishop’s homily he referred to the first reading from Ezekiel where they heard about some bad shepherds.

Father Philip DeVolder, pastor of Sacred Heart, Warsaw, observes a classroom visit.

“They only cared about themselves — they were selfish,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The prophet Ezekiel gave a warning to those bad shepherds; he said God is sending a good shepherd to lead the people — Jesus —who goes out after the lost sheep.”

The bishop said Jesus then chose Twelve Apostles, who became the first bishops, and that succession has gone on for over 2,000 years. Bishop Rhoades said as bishop he is responsible to “lead all the people of our diocese to be closer to Jesus. I like to travel to meet my ‘sheep.’”

He shared the parable in the Gospel about the generous landowner who gave each worker a full day’s pay even if they only worked an hour. “Jesus is teaching us how God is so generous,” Bishop Rhoades said, “even though we may not deserve it. God gives us so many gifts, so many graces that we don’t deserve — that’s how much He loves us.”

Bishop Rhoades said that “one of the great things about being in a Catholic school is every day you hear about God, pray, listen to His word, learn how to be generous at school and with others who are poor and in need. You all pray together in class and come to Mass several times a week.”

At the end of Mass, students presented Bishop Rhoades and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marsha Jordan with a spiritual bouquet with notes attached showing what types of prayers would be offered on their behalf.

Bishop Rhoades told the students, “This is the best gift I could receive — the gift of prayer.”

The entrance to Sacred Heart Elementary and Sacred Heart Church is shown above. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades visited there on Aug. 20.

Bishop Rhoades and the superintendent then visited the school, but not before a quick stop at Principal James Faroh’s office to get “clipped” — part of the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) program where students get rewarded for making good choices by getting clipped with a decorated clothespin that they can later trade in for gifts.

Bishop Rhoades and Jordan visited each classroom. They were later joined by Carl Loesch, Secretariat for Catholic Education. Bishop Rhoades asked the students questions, including what they were learning in religion class, and also allowed the students to ask him questions.

Bishop’s first stop was sixth grade where students asked questions such as: “Is doing Mass at the coliseum hard?” The bishop answered, “No, I look forward to that every year.”

“Can a bishop become a cardinal or do you have to go back to college?” He explained that very few bishops become cardinals and those that do usually are from a large diocese and are appointed by the pope.

Ben Brennan and Carly Click presented the guests with gifts. Brennan shared that his grandfather made the stained glass butterflies, which represent rebirth.

There were typical questions asked in each class about the bishop’s “hats” — his miter and zucchetto and why he takes them on and off. Other questions included, “Is it hard to be bishop?” “Is it fun to be bishop?” “What did he do to get his clip?” “Has he ever met the pope?”

Bishop Rhoades replied that he met Pope John Paul II and was ordained by the recently-named saint. He has not yet met Pope Francis, although he will be meeting with him in November — on the bishop’s birthday.

Principal Faroh told the students that the bishop, whose portrait was hanging in the hallway next to the pope’s, was visiting so some thought the pope would come, too. Each classroom had its own patron saint and each class either presented the bishop and guests with a gift, a song or a prayer. Third graders had recently made rosaries and Bishop Rhoades blessed the class’s rosaries.

Following the class visits, Bishop Rhoades, Jordan and Loesch joined the faculty for a special luncheon provided by the Home and School Association (HASA).

Sacred Heart School 

Sacred Heart School was built in 1957 — two additions were ultimately added to the building to bring it to its present state. Last year a new security system was installed and a kitchen-remodeling project is underway. The school serves preschool (ages 3, 4 and 5) through sixth grade and the current enrollment is 190.

Principal James Faroh was appointed Sacred Heart’s principal six years ago and he has 27 years experience as principal in both public and parochial schools, but the majority of his career has been at Catholic schools.

He said he most enjoys “being a spiritual and academic leader working for successful spiritual formation and academic growth of the students. It’s a joy and constant motivation to keep improving.”

Thirty-one full and part-time staff members “work together for the betterment of students” at Sacred Heart, integrating Catholic teaching through the curriculum, as well as in clubs, activities and sports.

“Catholicism is regarded as the ‘umbrella’ over everything we do at Sacred heart School,” Faroh said.

Special Programs

Faroh shared about the special programs in place at Sacred Heart. “We are implementing the STREAM philosophy with project based learning while integrating the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) plus religion and the arts, “Faroh said. “This learning philosophy has been Sacred Heart’s academic vision in the past as well.”

The school also has a “Going Above and Beyond” program to help every student achieve to the maximum of his or her ability. Students are assessed throughout the year and the “data drives instruction.” Sacred Heart also offers a conversational Spanish course and Peace Be With You — a diocesan-wide program to teach students in fourth grade to respect each other in a Christ-like manner. “We hope they carry this and all training received at Sacred Heart and keep it in their hearts and minds to be a success in life,” Faroh said.

Sacred Heart has “Casual Day for a Cause” where students can bring in $1 or more to wear caual clothes instead of their uniform that day and each month a different charity is chosen to be the recipient. Some past causes have been Juvenile Diabetes, American Cancer Society, Veterans causes and St. Jude’s Hospital.

The school has an annual culture fair and Accelerated Reader celebrations. Clubs include,  LEGOS, Green Team Ecology Club, drama, chess, tumbling and twirling, Scouting and robotics, which is new this year. There’s the Sacred Hearts Singers Choir. Athletics for grades 4-6 includes soccer, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and track.

“Sacred Heart is a total package, combining spiritual formation with academics success. The faculty and staff collaborate for the betterment of the students,” Faroh said. “Our pastor (Father Phil DeVolder) is a strong spiritual leader, we have a strong HASA (Home and School Association) and school board and an impressive amount of sports, clubs and activities for students. We integrate technology into the curriculum. And we offer scholarships.”

“This was a great school before I came. It’s still a great school and it will continue to be a great school. I say this with confidence because I see all the necessary components — dedicated hardworking staff, hardworking students, a very supportive pastor, very involved parents and very supportive parish community — it’s wonderful!”

The motto for Sacred Heart School is “Where God and education lead the way.” Faroh remarked when he first came and heard the motto he thought, “Wow — that is a perfect motto. Sacred Heart is a tremendously special school — a true blessing from God.”

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