‘Abbey’ program promotes camaraderie, service in Nebraska school

.- Cathedral of the Risen Christ grade school in Lincoln, Neb. started a new program for students in grades 6-8 last fall: the abbey program.

Students were divided into seven different groups, or abbeys, with a like number from each grade in each abbey. Each abbey was named after a saint or very important person to the Catholic Faith: St. John Bosco, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Padre Pio, St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. Each abbey has a teacher as sponsor.

With the students divided into the abbeys, throughout the year the school has had various games and contests between them, awarding points for each activity. Points are awarded to abbeys whose members were on the honor roll, who were deemed excellent in their behavior, or who scored very well on specific tests. A scoreboard is posted in the school’s west hallway to let the students know how their abbey is doing.

Principal Tony Primavera said the purpose of the concept was two-fold.

"First of all, we wanted the students to have fun," he said. "And secondly, we wanted to develop some camaraderie between the students in the different grades. The contests and games we’ve had have been great to observe while watching the students get excited and pull for each other, regardless of the age or grade of their ‘teammates.’"

The abbeys have also inspired the students into service. The abbeys met for lunch throughout the year and over the past several weeks, each chose a specific Lenten project.

The John Paul II abbey is conducting a "40 Days for Life" project. Each day members of the abbey spend 30 minutes in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel praying for the unborn. The eighth-grade leader of the group prepared a schedule for the event and designed prayer cards with the John Paul II Abbey logo on the front of them. The goal is to have 40 hours total in prayer for life.

The St. Catherine of Siena students are working to pick up the school grounds and keep them clean. A schedule was made for the students to take turns during their noon recess to pick up trash.

Students in the St. John Bosco abbey are writing letters to parishioners or parishioners’ family members who are serving overseas in the U.S. Military. They will also donate items in a care package to be sent to one of the soldiers in Iraq to share with other service members.

During the week of April 4-8, the St. Therese Lisieux abbey worked with Catholic Social Services to coordinate a food drive for the CSS food pantry. The Mother Teresa Abbey conducted a drive to collect children’s clothing for CSS the week of April 11-15.

The St. Francis of Assisi abbey is planning a collection of children’s books to be donated to the Cathedral daycare, and the St. Padre Pio abbey sold Tootsie Pops after school before Easter Break. The proceeds will be given to the Pink Sisters.

Printed with permission from the Southern Nebraska Register, newspaper for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.

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