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Spirit of giving alive and well in archdiocese

By Charlie Wieser   

At this time of year the Christmas spirit can be seen everywhere.

            For many people, it's their favorite time of year, with family and friends gathering to share their love and blessings.

            And it's a special time for Christians as we celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.

            In the Archdiocese of Omaha, students are planning to carry the spirit of Christmas beyond the season by assisting a Catholic school in New Orleans to recover from the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (see story).

            These archdiocesan students are putting their faith into action by helping their fellow Catholic students at Cathedral Academy realize the benefits of a values-based education. An elementary school in New Orleans' French Quarter, Cathedral Academy has a current enrollment of about 250 African-American youth, many from lower-income families. These young people are facing many challenges, including living in damaged homes or in a house shared by several families. It says a lot when their principal "“ Sister Mary Rose Bingham "“ called the school the 'safest place that a lot of them have."

            Funds raised locally by students will help to repair the school, replace books and computers, and assist the school's scholarship fund.

            Sister Michelle Faltus, SFCC, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Omaha and coordinator of the project, says this is 'just the beginning." She has put a lot of time and energy into the effort because she realizes the importance of keeping Catholic education alive in New Orleans, and the valuable service lessons being learned by local students as they assist their counterparts in the South.

            This project, she said, is teaching local youth that 'we need to support our schools in other parts of the country" and 'we need to take care of those children."

            It should also be noted that local parishes continue to help the hurricane victims by collecting food, clothing and funds. In fact, one parish is looking into the possibility of adopting a parish that was nearly destroyed by the hurricane. The pastor wishes to wait on publicity until the details can be finalized, so look for more on this project in the future.

            Another measure of the generosity of parishioners is their support of the archdiocese's annual appeal, which now has nearly $2.1 million pledged of the $2,500,000 goal.

            Yes, the spirit of giving is alive and well in the archdiocese, with students and parishioners reaching out to the needy, including our neighbors to the South who have seen death and destruction far beyond what many of us have experienced.

            What's truly encouraging is to realize that plans call for giving not just at Christmastime, but throughout the New Year.

Charlie Wieser is the editor of The Catholic Voice.
E-mail him at cmwieser@archomaha.org.

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