After Pope Francis declared 2016 the year of mercy, students at San Francisco de Asis have focused their efforts toward showing love to those who need it the most.
The school is celebrating the nation-wide Catholic Schools Week this week, which focuses on promoting Catholic education through service projects and school spirit activities. This year, the school themed their week around mercy, particularly the seven Corporal Works of Mercy, part of the Catholic faith.
School Principal Bill Carroll said classes paired up this week to focus on one of the seven works of mercy. Projects have included a coat drive for the local homeless population, a book drive to give to children living in the domestic violence shelter, sending prayer cards to people in prison, making cards for grieving families at the funeral home and sending cards and flowers to nursing home residents.
“For us, mercy means to show forgiveness and love to everybody,” Carroll said. “We’re focusing on people who need love the most.”
Carroll said the seventh grade class spent the morning serving breakfast to about 25 homeless men at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel downtown.
“The kids get really excited to help people who need help,” he said.
Students also had spirit week activities, like dress-up days, a door decorating contest, a volleyball game against the teachers, a Bible trivia contest and a talent show.
A frozen bus prevented the seventh grade class from attending a rally at the state capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, where students from Catholic schools across Arizona gathered to celebrate religious education.
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However, Carroll said the school is working locally to celebrate Catholic education, and students are committing to carrying their Catholic education with them after they leave the school.
“The eighth graders do a commitment ceremony where they commit to Christian values outside of school, not just to themselves, but in front of their family and the other students,” Carroll said. “It’s especially important here because there is no Catholic high school here, so we want them to take their values and carry them with them, without their parents forcing it upon them.”
As of now, there are no plans to expand the school to include high school, Carroll said, though he said he would not be opposed to the idea in the future. Carroll said most San Francisco de Asis alumni attend nearby Flagstaff High School, and said the school likes to promote the public schools as a good high school option.
However, he said the school is always happy for new students to join, and said there will be openings for next year.
Carroll, who is in his first year as principal, said he loves working in a Catholic school because he can include his faith into the school day and curriculum.
“It’s a blessing to work here,” he said. “I love being able to share my faith and to be an example for both the teachers and the students. I love to say prayer over the announcements and I love that I can go into a class and pray.”
This is the school’s last full year at its downtown Flagstaff campus. Carroll said grades will begin moving to the new campus on McMillan Mesa near the church beginning next school year.