Local Schools

St. Pat’s invests in its community of faith

Colton O’Connor, left, and Bawi Kham, first graders at St. Patrick School in Kansas City, Kansas, help each other with a word search activity during the school’s first-ever “Nothing but Faith” day. The day was dedicated entirely to the faith, with each grade delving into a variety of Catholic topics — from the Divine Mercy chaplet to the Stations of the Cross. First graders focused on the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.”

Helena Tling, a kindergartener at St. Patrick School, participates in a craft during the “Nothing but Faith” day held at the school. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.”

Philemon Hmung glues pictures onto a paper plate while classmate Petra Dordevic watches. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.

Jocelyn Robledo, left, and Angela Par, first graders at St. Patrick, participate in a faith-based crossword search together. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.”

Noah Riley, a kindergartner at St. Patrick, pastes a picture as part of a craft during the “Nothing but Faith” day held at the school. The students focused solely on faith-related topics for the entire school day. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.

Amillia Porcase, in kindergarten, shows off her completed craft. The students of St. Patrick were eager to participate in a day dedicated to faith. The school plans to host one each quarter. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

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.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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