Five Catholic Elementary Schools on Long Island held a joint fundraiser to support Catholic Relief Services efforts in Ukraine. Students learned that they can have fun while living their faith to make a difference in the world. In attendance were students and parents, school faculty and staff, and two religious sisters with direct ties to Ukraine.
The event was hosted as Sts. Philip and James School in St. James, NY. Principal Diane Anderson was privileged to host the event. She shared, “The evening was lovely. We felt peace as they stroked their brushes and created flowers the colors of Ukraine.”
What made this event unique is the collaboration amongst the schools. In addition to SSPJ, students, parents, and faculty traveled from throughout the region:
- St. Dominic in Oyster Bay
- Sts. Philip and James in St James
- Trinity Regional in East Northport
- St. Edward the Confessor in Syosset
- Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Center Moriches
Praying for the people of Ukraine has been central in many Rockville Centre Catholic schools for 2022. Earlier in the war, our schools united with Pope Frances and prayed for peace.
This is in stark contrast to most classrooms across the country, where young students are left overwhelmed by the idea of war. Dr. Denise Smith, Superintendent of the Department of Education for the Diocese of Rockville Centre reinforced the power of prayer within our classrooms: “During these times of turbulence all around us in this world, regardless of the distance between us, it’s fitting that our students and faculty reflect, unite, and pray for peace and unity in our world.”
Connection to Ukraine
Special guests were the evening were two religious sisters, Sr. Ellen and Sr. Theresita Donach, CSFN, both of the order Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. For some, Sr. Theresita was a familiar face that evening; she serves at the pastoral associate at Sts. Philip and James parish in St. James, NY.
But for many attending the event, it was the first time they could hear real stories of life today in Ukraine. Their religious order has a community in Ukraine that has suffered through the reality of the war. You can read their experiences from their blog, from the first moments of war to the present day:
- February 19, 2022 – “A Letter from Ukraine”
- February 26, 2022 “War in Ukraine”
- March 18, 2022 “War in Ukraine, 2”
- March 28, 2022 “War in Ukraine, 3”
- April 29, 2022 “Experience of War in Ukraine”
From their most recent post, a religious sister emphasis the importance of prayer:
“We are alive thanks to the defense of soldiers, and the help coming from everywhere, but I am convinced that it is because prayer continues, that hands are constantly raised to God in prayer."
Making a Difference
Dr. Ronald J. Martorelli, Ed.D., principal at the Schools of St. Dominic in Oyster Bay, explained the importance of taking action, “We always talk with students about how we should live our faith. The Paint for Peace event gave students of all grade levels that opportunity. By painting sunflowers, which is the flower of Ukraine, they raised money for CRS to help the Ukrainian people. So, they were directly involved in living their faith, and they learned about the greater good the Catholic Church does around the world.”
The cost of the ticket, sale of T-shirts, and other fundraising activities raised over $1,000 for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an organization active on the frontlines in Ukraine. Many Catholics are familiar with CRS efforts in agriculture, education, and emergency response and recovery. But few people know that CRS began during World War II to serve migrants and refugees. Their efforts are scaling as the Ukrainian war evolves.
Read More: As Ukrainians Flee in unprecedented numbers, CRS expands its humanitarian response to 10 countries (May 5, 2022)
Special thanks to artist Ron Shapland and Pawcasso Art Studio and Pet Boutique in Westhampton Beach for teaching everyone to paint. ◾️