Partner Spotlight: St. Bernard Catholic School

Posted on: February 9, 2016 12:00 pm
Tags: Spotlight, Uganda, Education,

Sr. Mary Janet Stamm does a cake walk at the St. Bernard Mission Festival.

For 40 years, St. Bernard Catholic School in Cincinnati, OH has organized a fun and engaging Mission Festival. The mission they have chosen to learn about and support through their festival fundraising is our very own SND Uganda Mission. How blessed are we!

Michele Frey, a St. Bernard alumna and parent, has helped plan the festival for almost 20 years. She shared what the festival entails and what it means to her in this month's Partner Spotlight.

February 2016 Partner Spotlight: St. Bernard Catholic School

by Michele Frey

The Mission Festival at St. Bernard Catholic School has been held for more than 40 years. Some of my friends, who are now in their fifties and attended St. Bernard, still remember it from their time at the school. I have been involved with the Mission Festival for the last 20 years.  When I first got involved, all of the funds were raised on one day at the actual festival.  Over the years, we have added additional activities, such as a week-long bake sale, a week-long penny challenge, a lunch for the students, and then the actual festival with games and raffle baskets. Twenty years ago the festival raised about $500, but since adding the penny challenge we now raise close to $4,000. 

Before I was on the committee, the funds raised went to a variety of organizations.  At a meeting somewhere along the way a discussion came up about finding another school, a mission school to partner with so the children could connect in a more meaningful way. I think the partnership with the Sisters of Notre Dame has been a great success! We have especially enjoyed meeting the sisters who have worked in Uganda and tell us about their experiences.

The festival events are planned by a committee of about four to five people, with each person usually heading up an event. On the day of the festival many, many parents come and donate their time helping to run the events for the day. The 7th and 8th grade students actually work the game booths.  They also help with the set-up and clean-up.

The students are excited to learn about St. Julie Primary School.  Each year different events or activities have taken place.  Some years the students have corresponded with the students at St. Julie. Several times the sisters have come and given slide presentations at school assemblies.  In classes leading up to the festival, the students learn about missionary work.  For the past ten years we have created some kind of display that is sent to St. Julie after the festival.  For example, one year each student wrote a mission prayer, another year we created a globe with a photo of each child around the globe holding hands, and another year we crafted quilt squares with mission messages on them. In 2016, each child filled out a card with qualities they think a missionary possesses. Their responses were paired with their pictures and put on ten hanging panels.  The children can visually see what the missions are all about and learn from each other’s responses.

I will never forget when a sister came and showed the children some of the things they had purchased with the donated funds- such as a goat for milk!  The children were amazed. Something so basic that they have at lunch every day and they were able to give that gift to students across the world. What a blessing to be able to help other students. The connection is easy for the students to relate to. A bulletin board hangs in the school year-round with images from St. Julie and the festival. I often see children in the hall stopping to have a look.

For me, the festival is both fun and rewarding.  It is never really work when the result is so satisfying. Each year when the total funds raised are announced at the Mission Festival assembly, there is an audible gasp from all in attendance.  It is really quite unique for such a small school of approximately 200 students to be able to give so much!!

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