Students in North Carolina put into action Catholic social teaching

Marc Kielty Around the Province

RALEIGH, N.C. — Breaking from tradition, students at the Franciscan School, the elementary school of the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi here, wanted to end the year by doing something more.

This desire included reciting the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching during morning prayer, discussions with more than 20 presenters who shared their faith and knowledge about Catholic Social Teaching, and what each of the teachings might mean in our world today, and ended with students bagging more than 10,000 lunches for hungry children.

Needing funding to finance the day’s projects, seventh grade teacher Cheryl Stevens applied for a grant from the Poverello Fund, a benevolence trust established by the parish’s Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace, the unifying vehicle of peace and justice ministries at St. Francis.

The fund was established to assist individual parishioners, groups or ministries fund and/or develop definite-term projects or programs that promote justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. Through the grant award, Stevens coordinated with Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization based in Raleigh, who coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world by having students package the bags of beans and rice for distribution.

During his homily on the following Sunday, David McBriar, OFM, expressed gratitude for the students’ efforts, related some of the lessons learned and discussed how we can all learn from the students’ actions. He said, “The Eucharist is a meal for a purpose; to strengthen us to build God’s kingdom on earth. Sharing the Eucharist, then, empowers us to live out our Catholic Social Teachings.”

— Marc Kielty is coordinator of ministry support at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh.