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Eighth graders learn about religious vocations

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Friday, June 11, 2010

By Eileen Connelly, OSU

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — Determined to promote vocation awareness, as well as deepen his students’ appreciation for the legacy and current ministries of various religious communities, Joe Crachiolo, a teacher at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School (MTCES), put them to work on a special project earlier this year.

With a majority of the 37 students in his eighth-grade religion classes bound for Catholic high schools originally founded and still sponsored by various religious orders, Crachiolo assigned each student to research a particular community.

Father Gus Guppenberger
Glenmary Father Gus Guppenberger shared his vocation story with eighth graders at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School earlier this year. Pictured with Father Guppenberger, from left, are Josh Bauer, teacher Joe Crachiolo and Maria Schnell. (Courtesy photo)

“I felt the students should know something about the religious communities that founded their schools,” explained Crachiolo, a graduate of Moeller High School, sponsored by the Society of Mary (Marianists). “Each school has its own flavor.”

Each student selected a religious order to research, with Crachiolo’s approval, then reported their findings to the class. The specifics of the project included learning who founded the particular community, when and why, how many members there are currently, how the order is visible today, its sponsored ministries, whether education, health care or social service.

In addition to their classroom presentation, the students were also required to create a poster featuring graphics and a slogan to advertise the particular order. Crachiolo said he plans to repeat the project next year.
“It gave the students exposure to many different orders that they didn’t know about,” he said. “They realized that each has a different focus, but all fall under the umbrella of Catholicism. I think it engaged them in thinking about vocations, in thinking about the future.”
For Josh Bauer, who will attend St. Xavier High School in the fall, researching the Jesuits for his project was an obvious choice. Bauer said he used various sources to learn more about the Society of Jesus, including St. X’s website. He was particularly inspired by the example of the order’s founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
“St. Ignatius is a good role model,” Bauer said. “He started out being arrogant, but I liked how he turned his life around and wanted to follow Jesus. That made me realize that everybody makes mistakes and that people who are priests and Sisters aren’t perfect either.”

Although Maddie Johnson is bound for Ursuline Academy, she found the Ursuline foundress, St. Angela Merici had already been selected for the project, so she researched the Daughters of Charity, founded by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac.
“I liked learning about the ways they helped people,” Johnson said of the order. “They opened houses, centers and hospitals for the poor and people who just needed someone to talk. The project made me want to learn more about what other religious orders do. It really impresses how their work is still carried on today. That shows how members of religious orders are so courageous and dedicated to what they’re involved in.”
As part his vocation awareness effort, Crachiolo also arranged for speakers to address his classes. Glenmary Father Gus Guppenberger and Precious Blood Sister Anne Schulz, principal of MTCES, both shared their vocation stories and life experiences with the students.

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