Undeterred: St. Ann Catholic School in Bartlett Serves Amidst the Pandemic with Much Faith, Care and Collaboration
By Anthony Maranise, Obl.S.B.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta uttered those words, and they seem just as applicable today, if not even more so. Living in an age of COVID-19 has certainly strained our collective sense of peace, safety, and security. Moreover, it has caused so many of us to face isolation and the sometimes pervasive loneliness that comes from remaining so ‘socially distanced.’
However, at St. Ann Catholic School of Bartlett – even amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – we, the faculty, staff, and most importantly, the learners, have not forgotten the truth that we all belong to one another. Pandemic or not, suffering and need in our world persists and we have refused to allow the limitations of the pandemic to deter us from coming to the assistance of those who need our hope, our help, and our love.
It was Saint Benedict of Nursia, in his Holy Rule, who was known to have said, “Never turn away when someone needs your love.” At St. Ann, we have warmly embraced St. Benedict’s dictum through our collective acts of both physical and spiritual service to our community and those around us.
“It’s important that we continue to be persons of service even though COVID-19 is happening. That doesn’t mean that people simply stop needing our help. In fact, many have lost their jobs and life has become harder for them because of the pandemic. People need our help now even more,” said James Kargauer, an eighth grader at St. Ann.
Within our own community at St. Ann, eighth graders and other middle schoolers took it upon themselves to partner with our PreK, Kindergarten, and first grade learners to read to one another in a show of unity and mentorship. Our middle school learners have dedicatedly collected baby clothes for Catholic Charities, food for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and made Valentine’s Day and prayer cards for the residents of the Ave Maria Home and Quail Ridge Assisted Living Facility.
Eighth grade homeroom teacher Stacey Griffith reiterates the importance of student leadership during service events. “I like for the students to make a personal connection during their service events. The pandemic has made this next to impossible. The 8th grade students and teachers were still able to come up with some meaningful projects. I think everyone’s favorite project was reading to the younger students here at St. Ann. It was one event that the students were able to actually connect with someone. In our latest project, several students took leadership of the project and did all of the organizing and promoting of the event.”
A particular beacon of both light and hope has shone from out of St. Ann’s seventh and eighth grade learners, who, in preparation for their coming Confirmation sacraments, have participated in school-wide service activities and projects, but done additional service work for their Confirmation formation.
As part of Catholic Schools Week, these seventh and eighth graders collected snack food and necessary items such as Kleenex and small bottles of hand sanitizer and assembled in excess of five hundred ‘care packages’ for members of the Bartlett Police and Fire Departments and medical first-responders. These were then distributed to all the grateful service personnel.
A service project was just completed wherein learners collected food items, divided by and based on grade level, for contribution and donation to the Dorothy Day House of Memphis.
Speaking on the importance of service as vital to our mission at St. Ann, eighth grader, Isabella Bomprezzi said, “To ignore the needs of others is purely selfish. We need to do whatever is in our power to recognize the needs others have so we can become selfless. It’s difficult to enjoy our own lives when we realize that suffering causes others not to enjoy theirs. We can help provide joy.”
In these pandemic times, personal connections and service are more important than ever before. We at St. Ann Catholic School in Bartlett are privileged to be able to offer service and meaningful connections to our community as well as building students with great character, leadership and compassion.