by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On March 9, students at St. Patrick School here put away their textbooks, clearing their desks for something more important.
They spent the entire day immersed in the Catholic faith.
“I want our kids to have a better understanding of their faith,” said Tim Conrad, principal of St. Patrick. “I want us as a school to teach the relevance of our faith — the true meaning.”
Conrad created the day, dubbed “Nothing But Faith,” after conversations he had with alumni and parents.
“They talked about everything they got out of coming to school here at St. Pat’s,” he said. “But some things they didn’t learn while they were here.”
Although the school strives to teach Catholicism, Conrad said that digging into more complex topics isn’t always possible.
“There’s so many relevant pieces of information that we don’t cover,” he explained. “This is an opportunity to go deeper into our faith education.
“And as a Catholic school, devoting the time to do that is what we need to be doing.”
St. Patrick plans to host a “Nothing But Faith” day once a quarter to increase the comprehension of complicated faith matters.
Conrad came up with a general plan for how the day would look and asked teachers to create their own activities and projects for their students.
Each grade covered something different — from Jesus’ suffering on the cross to the Divine Mercy chaplet to the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Jennifer Watkins’ first grade class learned about the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
She hoped to continue discussing the topic throughout Lent and the rest of the school year.
“I think it’s important to foster that community of faith in our kids so that as they grow, it becomes part of their life,” said Watkins.
“If we start it early and we start developing those key feelings of faith and prayer, it becomes a habit,” she continued. “And once it becomes a habit, they’ll continue it through their teenage years.”
Watkins said “Nothing But Faith” is an example of why she loves St. Patrick.
“I work at a Catholic school on purpose because I want to work with faith,” she said. “I want to be able to talk about God and love.
“I love teaching the first grade because they embrace it fully and with such open abandonment. It’s wonderful.”
Father Mark Mertes, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, was delighted with the idea.
“I think having a ‘Nothing But Faith’ day is a terrific way to celebrate the mission of Catholic schools,” he said.
“Mr. Conrad’s decision also frees up the teachers to be creative and try out new projects and activities that are specific to our Catholic identity,” he said.
Father Mertes was impressed when he walked around the school, checking out each classroom’s projects.
He hoped the day would have a ripple effect for the St. Patrick community.
“My hope is that as the children share what they are doing in school,” he said, “moms and dads and brothers and sisters will have their faith enriched as well.”
For more photos from “Nothing but Faith,” click here.