Relgious Education Gets Boost at Our Lady of Fatima

Left to right: Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, Superintendent; Fr. Joe Martina, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish; Dr. Carynn Wiggins, Principal; Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis; Jamie Humphrey, Religion Teacher

by Bonny Van

During the school year, Wednesday morning Mass for students at Our Lady of Fatima School in Monroe is much more than just a time to celebrate the Eucharist.  It’s also much more than time spent in prayer, listening to scripture or taking a break from class work.  For the majority of the 200 students, it’s the only chance they have to experience God.

“So many of our students are un-churched, except through the school,” said principal Dr. Carynn Wiggins.  That is why a $5,000 grant from the Black and Indian Missions has been such a blessing.

Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Shreveport, applied for the grant a year ago after a visit to Fatima School opened her eyes to the lack of religious material available for teaching.

“Ninety-five percent of the students are funded by state tuition and zero funds from the state can be used for religious material,” she said.  “I was really saddened by this and Jamie, the religion teacher, told me that many of the children had never heard about God.”

Jamie Humphrey has been the religion teacher at the school for the past 12 years.  Teaching without books and other student materials has been challenging.
“We’re trying to teach them about the Gospel and instill good moral values,” she said.

Bole says the grant, awarded just before Christmas, was a great Christmas present.

“I said let’s dream big, what do you need?”

First on the list were books.  Bole contacted a representative from Sadlier Publishing Company, which donated 20 books.  Grant money was used to buy the rest.

Money from the grant has also been used to purchase a laptop and a rolling cart so that Humphrey can move to different classrooms.

“We’ve also used the money to buy a DVD set that covers the basics of our faith and Elmo clickers which allow the kids to answer questions remotely with the SMART board,” said Bole.

“We’ve also bought portable batteries and a keyboard for Jamie, and we still have $1500 left!  We’ve been able to do so much more than we imagined.  We’re going to hold off until the fall to see what they need,” she said.

Humphrey said the materials have made a big impact already.

Some of the religious resources purchased for Our Lady of Fatima School with the aid of a Black and Indian Missions grant.

“The children are more organized and we are back on track with our catechism,” she said.  “If not for us, most of them would not know about God.”
“This really does make a difference in the lives of these children,” says Dr. Wiggins.  “I tell people all the time, you don’t have to cross an ocean to have a mission field, you simply have to cross a parking lot.”

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