Dear St. Joseph Elementary School Families,
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
This week, the students were introduced to our annual theme for our whole school Service Learning project. This year we are focusing on loving our neighbors, and the refugee crisis around the world. The above passage from the Gospel according to Matthew emphasizes our Catholic obligation to love all and provide for all. We reflected on this Gospel passage yesterday together.
You may ask: What is service learning? The learning part, which always comes first, includes learning about global current events in our classroom. Once we learn more about a topic, then comes the service component. We implement a service project to give back in some way, to do our small part to address the issue. Our students learn that their communities extend beyond the school walls and even the city of Alameda. As Catholics, it is our mission to give back to as many as we can.
As mentioned above, this year’s theme is solidarity and loving our neighbors. The students have been learning about people from other countries who many need to flee their homes for different reasons. The example discussed at yesterday’s presentation was the Venezuelan Refugee Crisis. Inflation has increased at an uncontrollable rate and personal freedoms have been stifled. Many starving people are trying to flee the country looking for a safe place to live.
As part of our Catholic teachings we are teaching the students about solidarity. We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers in the world.
This year, we will work with the students on raising awareness to this global issue. We are partnering with our Parish’s “Welcome the Stranger Program” for the service component. Welcome the Stranger is a ministry of the Alameda Deanery (the Catholic parishes in Alameda) which accompanies a refugee family from their entry into the U.S. into self sufficiency as legal residents in their new home. Help provided can be short-term (setting up an apartment) or ongoing (helping to learn English, negotiate public transit, enroll in school, etc.). You will hear more about our fundraising efforts for this cause throughout the year.
We look forward to a full community participation towards our service learning project. Please support us by talking to your children about the word “refugee.” Listen to what they know and turn it into a family discussion. I am amazed at the compassion our students show and the thought provoking discussions when we talk about it as a school. What a great reminder our children are of what it means to show love, care, and compassion for others!
I hope you have a restful, wonderful weekend!
Peace and Blessings,
Ms. Katherine Francisco