Works of Mercy
Red Bank Catholic selected as diocesan nominee for Charity and Social Service Honors Program
By Lois Rogers | Features Editor
It seemed only right that the entire student body of Red Bank Catholic High School took it personally when the announcement came Dec. 18 that the school would be the diocesan nominee to the prestigious Charity and Social Service Honors program sponsored by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
The biennial honors program was established by the basilica during the 2009 jubilee year to honor "charity and action" as urged by Pope Benedict XVI to the youth of the nation during his apostolic visit to the United States in April, 2008.
Dioceses throughout the country participate by selecting from among local submissions of student-produced multi-media video, PowerPoint or slide show presentation with a maximum length of three minutes from a student or high school group demonstrating their efforts to perform Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
The diocesan nominee was chosen by a selection committee pulled together from various parishes and schools in the diocese. The selection was announced in a message from Rayanne Bennett, diocesan executive director of communications, to the school. Bennett wrote: "Our selection committee was most impressed with the consistent and pervasive commitment that your students have demonstrated to the Works of Mercy." She added, "We especially liked the way that you framed the video by presenting the Works of Mercy specifically, and showed how the school lived out each one."
Bennett concluded, "On behalf of Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., and our diocesan-level Charity and Social Service Honors Committee, allow me to congratulate you for the extraordinary way you have lived the Gospel and shared God's love with our sisters and brothers."
Upon learning via an intercom announcement from Robert J. Abatemarco, principal, that the diocese had selected the RBC video, the students – all 1,040 of them – erupted in the kind of applause that comes from knowing they had met the mark, not only in creating an entry video for the competition that made a strong case for their selection but for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy they regularly take on in the name of Christ.
"They were thrilled when they heard the announcement today," said Mary Logan, religion teacher at RBC and moderator of the school's Mission Club, which put the video together. "They really put a lot of work into making the video that made their case."
And, as Logan explained it, putting the video together led to the realization of just how committed students of all grade levels are to serving those in need locally, nationally and around the world.
"Our kids have done wonderful work and this was a way to showcase it," said Logan. She added that though the process started with the mission club – the first high school mission club in the United States to establish an official affiliate with Maryknoll – it didn't take long to realize just how involved the entire student body is in good works.
"We started to realize that every student at the school is involved in some way. We got responses from eight to 10 teachers about what the clubs were doing to help. Even the athletics department is involved by going to visit kids in hospitals," she said.
"The National Honor Society runs food drives and collects sleepwear for sick children. The dance and theatre department put on shows to raise money for the missions. The art students learned how to sew and made clothes for children in developing nations. Students go to New Orleans during the (Easter) break to help rebuild.
"Making the video really showed the focus on Gospel values and that Christ is really the reason for this school. It touches every department and class and spreads throughout the whole school. This was a very good way to showcase it," Logan said.
The basilica will announce five honorees selected from among all nominations from across the nation for the 2011-2012 Charity and Social Service Honors Program on Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, Feb. 21 by 5 p.m. EST via its website at www.nationalshrine.com/honors.
Honorees selected by the basilica will be awarded a trip to Washington to be honored in person in the basilica on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 15. Honorees will receive the basilica's Charity and Social Service Honors Medallion during the noon Mass.
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