Story by EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent
Students of the Diocese of Trenton had a chance to bring their enthusiasm for Catholic schools to the airwaves during Catholic Schools Week, recording interviews with Domestic Church Media.
Talking about their unique experiences and service projects that contributed to their education, boys and girls from St. Joseph School, Toms River; Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville; St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, and St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar, visited with DCM radio hosts.
Jim Manfredonia, co-founder and CEO of the Domestic Church Media apostolate, Trenton, and radio co-host and parish liaison Gabriella Furmato, spoke with students throughout DCM’s listening area – which covers not only the Trenton Diocese, but also parts of the Camden and Metuchen dioceses, Pennsylvania and Staten Island, N.Y. The interviews were aired throughout Catholic Schools Week during 4 p.m. and encore 10 p.m. broadcasts.
When asked what it means for them to attend a Catholic school, the students pretty much agreed that it’s about being part of an environment that is vastly different from the secular experience.
“It really builds faith into your everyday life… It helps mold you into the person you want to be in the future,” said Andrew D’Arcy, seventh-grader in St. Joseph School. “I really do like the [Catholic school] community… all the students are nice, the teachers are really [focusing on] education, and parents do really fun fundraisers.”
Julia Gethard, a sixth-grader in St. Joseph, commented, “You get a really good education learning about Jesus and God.”
Kristen Kreutzberg, a senior at Notre Dame, spoke of how she had attended public school in northern Burlington before coming to the Catholic high school. “Catholic school was a whole different scenario,” she said, noting that it was “a good different.” While her life experience prior to Catholic school was “very unreligious, not faithful at all,” she told of how at Notre Dame she joined the Madrigal group – a choir that sings at monthly school Masses, ultimately deepening her faith.
St. John Vianney High School students Madison Sheppard and Morgan Plosica also spoke of the benefits of attending a Catholic school.
Plosica started in public school, but after being bullied, her parents sent her to Catholic middle school, which was a place “where everyone was so nice, and accepting and welcoming. I felt safe there, and I wanted to go to a Catholic high school as well,” she said.
Sheppard also struggled with bullying before attending SJVHS, and found that while “in public school the kids [were] ‘cliquey,’ when I came here, the people are different.”
Students were also enthusiastic to talk about how their Catholic education has allowed them opportunities to grow in faith and service.
Teresa Ross, third-grader in St. Rose School, Belmar, shared how she started a Mercy Club last year in her school, which was created to learn about the Works of Mercy and to put them into practice.
Ross shared her two favorite works of mercy from the past year: Bearing wrongs patiently, and Water Only Wednesdays, when the participants chose to drink only water instead of juices or soda on each Wednesday, in honor of the people of Uganda who often don’t have clean water to drink. The group also took time to visit a nursing home.
“Last year, it was first and second grades; this year, it’s second and third,” Ross said of the participants in the Mercy Club, which has grown to include 28 children.
D’Arcy and Gethard talked about how prayer during the school day at St. Joseph School has transferred to more prayer in their homes.
“We go to Mass at least once a month and every grade from second on up goes to Confession twice a year,” said D’Arcy, who also helps with morning announcements, including school prayer. “We start with a prayer and do a Gospel reading … it really builds faith into your everyday life.”
“Before I went to Catholic school, we didn’t focus on prayer that much,” said Gethard. “But once we realized how important it was, we started to do it more often… now that we’re more involved with Christ, we’ve turned our hearts more to him.”
To listen to the full interviews with Catholic school students, visit https://DomesticChurchMedia.org/catholic-schools-week-interviews.