Goretti's new campus minister is excited about possibilities

September 20, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - In her third year of teaching at St. Maria Goretti High School, Heather Stritch has taken on new responsibilities as the campus minister.

Undaunted by the additional duties that began this school year, Stritch, 29, is excited about the possibilities.

"I will be organizing Masses as a worship aide and meeting with the priest and choir director," Stritch said.

But it's the 25-hour community service program she is really getting into with an eye toward making the graduation requirement more meaningful for the students, she said.

Students in grades 10 to 12 may earn their 25 hours in any configuration, Stritch said. Starting with this year's freshmen, however, those hours will become service learning hours.

"A push is on now for more preparation, more learning and more reflection," she said. With that, the plan is that at least 15 of those hours will be with one nonprofit agency.


Stritch also will continue the service club project begun by her predecessor, Barbara Miller. Once a month, students will perform community service as a group.

Stritch previously taught morality, social justice, world religion and philosophy. She will continue to teach morality and social justice this year on a half-day basis.

"I am also available to talk with students and do planning and networking," Stritch said.

A native of Illinois, Stritch has lived in the Tri-State area since she was 20. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Shepherd College and her master's degree in philosophy from American University.

Stritch taught Catholic Sunday school classes while she attended Shepherd. In 2001, she lived in Florida, where she served for a year with Catholic Volunteers, a lay missionary group devoted to providing services to those in need.

In 2002, she worked as an outreach coordinator for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at Shenandoah Valley Medical System in Martinsburg, W.Va. Her primary work was helping to provide health insurance needs to children of near-poverty level families.

While a graduate student at American University, she volunteered as a group leader at an ecumenical Christian youth camp in West Virginia.

Another strong interest is Holocaust education. For the past two years, Stritch has been involved with a program called Bearing Witness, a program for Catholic schoolteachers to learn more about the historical relationship between the Catholic and Jewish communities.

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