Thank You and Farewell - Saint Patrick Catholic School

Christian Service: A faith-filled response of doing the ordinary for others.

Dear Friends,
I just received an email from Patty Davidson asking, “What day are we going to clean out the van?” She was referring to the St. Leo’s van that is used to deliver food for the Operation Keep Em Warm and Fed project. The van holds juice, 25 loaves of sandwiches, dated containers of cookies, and fruit in varying stages of ripeness. There are plastic bags, first aid supplies, new socks for the first Monday of the month distribution, two pairs of boots size 12 for men, tennis shoes with holes, a strange(r) assortment of golf balls, 5 lb weight, and a AAA map of US roads.  There is no doubt why we sing, “We all serve in a very messy van, a very messy van, a very messy van.”
Patty was asking because she is retiring this year, and she wants to clean out the van one more time with the Saint Patrick Catholic School kids. Patty has taken kids to Operation Keep ‘Em Warm and Fed six to eight mornings a month, including summers, for the last three years. She never misses a morning. We will clean out the van this week with 8th graders who have committed themselves to this morning ministry over their last year. Patty will direct them in her gentle way.
Peanut butter makes a great sandwich, tasty cookies, and is easy for kids to use to make their own meals during the summer. This Friday is our last pick-up of the year for the Food Connection, and they have asked that we collect peanut butter for their summer backpack program. Each month, we get a reminder from Kathy Miner that Saint Patrick Catholic School is collecting specific food for needy families in our community, and then Kathy has kids collect it from classroom doors. What is collected helps the food bank at St. Leo’s.I asked Kathy how she got started with the food collection, and she couldn’t really remember. “Just been doing it for a while.”
Kathy’s last food collection is this Friday, as she is retiring. Her no-nonsense, let’s-not-make-a-big-deal-of-this way of proceeding has helped fill the food bank in months when supplies are low. They tell her what they need, and she delivers. She has told us, “They need peanut butter,” and I hope we will follow her lead by bringing in so much that we will need the Keep Em Warm and Fed van to haul it all!
On Saturday morning, we will have our Graduation Brunch in the school gym. It will be a wonderful event to honor the graduating 8th graders and to celebrate with their families. On the wall behind the stage we will have a video highlighting the graduates’ last year, and I look forward to seeing it.  On the other wall, the one we don’t see as much, hang banners from years of Saint Patrick Catholic School’ raising funds for the Heart Association. It is such a worthy cause, and one that Julie Joyce has been instrumental in keeping at Saint Patrick Catholic School. She has continued a great legacy of Jumping Rope for Hearts, and every year the thank you card from the Heart Association reminds me that her’s is a simple, sustained gesture of service that makes considerable difference.
Julie is retiring this year, and her legacy will hang on our walls as a reminder that each of us has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around us, and sometimes, it is as easy as jumping rope!
I offer these teachers as exemplars of Christian service. Women who have given much to Saint Patrick Catholic School and to our students. Others are leaving us, and we will miss them, their companionship, their talent, their care of our students.
We are thrilled to say goodbye to Ashley Power only because she is ready to start her family with their new baby. Ashley has been amazing in her work as our Special Needs Chair, and a wonderful teacher.
Chris Tinder has been the consummate Catholic school teacher with a gentleness and spirituality that lifts kids up and gently guides them to greater confidence in themselves. Chris is a classic fly-fisherwoman, and I know she will be casting her line deftly into her next career, wherever that takes her.
Jenny Saldana is moving back to where she began: Special Education. We will miss her spirit, her energy, and her sense of how important it is to treat one another with kindness. Jenny is a whirlwind of compassion whom Saint Patrick Catholic School will remember for a long time.
It is nearly time to say goodbye to this school year. There is a certain joy in that, even with the sadness of saying goodbye to these 6 women. We will celebrate the gifts and talents of our graduating 8th graders, and I hope they know that much of who they have become is because of the influence and model of their teachers.
To all who are leaving us, students, families and colleagues, let us say thank you for all you are, be well, continue to serve God’s people everyday you can, and come back.