Bishop Rhoades visits the newly-consolidated Mishawaka Catholic School
By Karen Clifford
MISHAWAKA — “It’s a historic time for the Church in Mishawaka to have a new consolidated Catholic school,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades exclaimed as he greeted third- through eighth-grade students during Mass at St. Joseph Church in Mishawaka on Aug. 26.
Bishop Rhoades was on hand to visit Mishawaka Catholic inter-parochial school, which consists of three campuses — the St. Bavo campus for preschoolers and kindergarten through second grade, the St. Joseph campus with grades 3-5, and the St. Monica campus which houses grades 6-8.
During his homily at Mass, Bishop Rhoades spoke of ways that students, teachers and parents could do God’s will in their lives. He reminded all that St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, taught that God wants us to become holy. He asked everyone to repeat the words with him, “This is the will of God — your holiness.”
He then urged those in attendance to become holy by participating in the many graces that God gives through sacraments such as the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and the need for daily prayer.
“Prayer helps us to become holy,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We need to love God with all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. And we need to love one another as Jesus has loved us.”
He asked that prayers for former St. Monica principal, Sister Pat Gavin, who is very ill, be included in the congregation’s daily worship.
Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades met with students, teachers, parents and those who helped to shape the direction of Mishawaka Catholic.
Father Terry Fisher, executive pastor of Mishawaka Catholic, described the spirit of the new school.
“The teachers are organized and the kids are excited,” Father Fisher said. “The parents were happy to see which classrooms their children would be in during the open house we had. We have waiting lists for pre-k and eighth grade and are excited about the whole thing.”
Mishawaka Catholic School board president Mike Burmeister added, “It was a long time in coming and many people worked hard to put this together. But we are off to a great start.”
Mishawaka Catholic Principal Vikki Wojcik is committed to keeping the traditions of each of the campuses.
“We definitely want to preserve the K-8 feeling in our school,” Wojcik told Today’s Catholic. “In order to do that we will need to be creative in how we structure learning opportunities across grades and across campuses.”
Events and programs that will intersect across grades and campuses include all-school Mass, Faith Families, science fair, reading experiences, an oratorical event, and a health day with a food fair and exercise, as examples.
Wojcik stressed that the faculty and staff are looking forward to examining what and how students learn, and taking the results and applying them in a variety of ways.
Two programs that Wojcik wants to apply new learning methods include art and music classes offered at the school.
Art teacher Cindie Weldy explained the methods of teaching and curriculum she will incorporate in her classes.
“I use the Discipline-Based Art Education Approach that combines art production, art criticism, art history, and aesthetics,” Weldy said. “Electives in the middle school will include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, weaving and collage.”
Jeanette Dripps, a music teacher for both Mishawaka Catholic and Marian High School, will offer middle school students a music elective course that is unique to Mishawaka Catholic.
“The students will participate in drumming and singing from cultures all over the world,” Dripps said. “We have ordered a classroom set of African drums and other instruments. Some were even made in Ghana, West Africa.”
“Through drumming circles, students will develop the ability to express themselves through playing and composition,” she added.
Wojcik acknowledges the success of any school is dependent on parental participation.
“We partner with parents in the most important work — raising children to be disciples of Christ,” Wojcik stressed. “When we have a shared vision of the work we are trying to accomplish, which is helping each child of God reach his or her potential. We are truly community.”
Before Bishop Rhoades’ visit to Mishawaka Catholic concluded, he met with kindergarten through second graders at the St. Bavo campus. During his interaction with students there, he proclaimed that his favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees; which prompted some disapproval from the audience.
Bishop Rhoades afterwards redeemed himself with the students when he proclaimed the University of Notre Dame to be his favorite football team.
Mishawaka Catholic School Statistics
Executive Pastor — Father Terry Fisher
Principal — Vikki Wojcik
Faculty members — 34
Preschool enrollment for 2011-2012 — 52
Kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment for 2011-2012 — 368
Web address — http://mishawakacatholicschool.org
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