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Catholic schools to celebrate indentity this week

January 27, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

It's only one week in a yearlong effort to help out their community, but Catholic Schools Week reminds students at St. Maria Goretti High School that their school is different - that it's based in religion.

As part of the school's celebration - which begins today and ends Friday - students will serve a spaghetti dinner Tuesday at the REACH (Religious Efforts to Assist and Care for the Homeless) Cold Weather Shelter at Trinity Lutheran Church and bowl to raise money for St. Jude's Hospital on Friday.

Senior Brigid McAteer, 17, said because students are working within the community year-round, the week isn't specially designated for community service, but some outreach activities were scheduled as part of it.

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"It's not necessarily giving back to the community, but showing that this type of thing is why we are different from other schools," she said.

The theme of the 2003 national week is "Catholic Schools: Making a World of Difference." Catholic Schools Week was started in 1974 with the slogan, "Different Where it Counts - Message, Community, Service."

"Personally I feel we do stuff all year round," said senior David Savino, 17.

For example, he said students annually participate in Church World Service's CROP Walk, which raises money for world hunger, and The March for Life, an annual anti-abortion walk in Washington, D.C.

During the holidays, the 243-student school sponsors a few families or collects canned foods to support them, Savino said.

Word that private school students are doing charitable things often doesn't reach the community, he said.

"Normally, people are trying to find something wrong with our school," Savino said.

But Senior Melanie Consentino, 17, said she would prefer not to have publicity for the schools' community efforts.

McAteer agreed, "I think it's better that you do things selfless rather than wanting recognition."

Their religion - only about 70 percent of Goretti's students are Catholic - plays out during a special school-wide liturgy at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, said Diane Favret, the school's director of admissions and marketing.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students from St. Mary Catholic School in Hagerstown will join Goretti students for the liturgy, but St. Mary's will also hold events of its own.

St. Maria Goretti and St. Mary's are the only Catholic schools in Washington County, Favret said.

After Mass, the St. Mary's students will join their high school counterparts at Goretti for hot chocolate and doughnuts, she said.

"This week is really for us to recognize our Catholic identity, and it lets the students know it's a privilege to come to a school like this," Favret said.

She said Goretti pulls from four Catholic middle schools in Emmitsburg, Md., Chambersburg, Pa., Martinsburg, W.Va., and Hagerstown.

This week the school also will hold three appreciation and thank-you meals for faculty and staff, volunteers and students.

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