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placeholder St. Elizabeth High spends day in service to others

Ignatian Companions offer intersection of service, spirituality

Catholic teens to gather at Oakland Diocese Youth Day

Young artists shine at Lillian Black Festival of the Arts

Chanticleer: life of Christ in concert

Holy Names University inaugurates president


Catholics can invest wisely and be morally responsible

Guidelines for Catholic investing

Many ways to leave a bequest to further Catholic intentions

Reverse mortgages now evolved, more regulated

Planning for the future with long-term care insurance

Catholic Charities offers tax service

Money-saving tips for 2010 returns

placeholder March 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
St. Elizabeth High spends day in service to others

Estefania Garcia, a junior at St. Elizabeth High School, assists a resident during a music class at the Mercy Retirement and Care Center.
José Luis Aguirre photo

Students at St. Elizabeth High School pulled on bright red T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Community Service Day 2011.” Even Sister Mary Liam Brock, principal and St. Elizabeth alumna, wore one over her familiar Dominican habit.

Lorenzo Shelton, a junior at St. Elizabeth High School, and Felesia Porter, a senior, help clean Lake Merritt during their school’s Day of Service.
José Luis Aguirre photo

“Today, you are making a difference,” campus minister Patrick Landeza told the gathering in the gym Feb. 7 before the students left for service that would, among other things, take them to prepare food, visit the elderly and clean the environment. “I commend you on your ability to help and serve others.”

“Today, you are seeds,” their principal told them, recalling the Gospel of Matthew. “I challenge you through your service and your behavior to be seeds that are nourished and grow on the good grounds,” Sister Liam told them. “You represent yourselves, your families, your schools. I challenge you to be those good seeds. I know you can. I know you will.”

Students who were heading to St. Martin de Porres School cleared a table in the middle of the gym of basketballs, playground balls and brightly colored jump ropes en route to the Oakland school.

The 168-student strong community invited the 40 seventh-graders from nearby St. Elizabeth Elementary School to join them in serving the community at more than a dozen sites in Oakland, Hayward, Alameda and San Francisco. More than 20 faculty and staff members worked side by side with them, feeding the hungry, cleaning up shorelines, tutoring and sorting clothes and food.

Service is not new to the St. Elizabeth students; they complete 100 hours apiece before graduation. At St. Elizabeth Elementary School, the requirement is 15 hours in seventh and eighth grades.

Sophomore Elizabeth Cuevas, 16, served breakfast as part of the 21st century program at St. Elizabeth Elementary School. “Everybody would be enthusiastic,” she said of the serving mornings, which began at 6:30 a.m., where she also enjoyed starting conversations with the eighth-graders.

Sophomore Eduardo Prieto-Lara, 15, has spent summers cleaning classrooms and doing some heavy lifting at St. John School in San Lorenzo. Eduardo has his sights set on becoming a doctor.

Amber Wilson, 18, a senior had made the trip to the Mercy Center last year. She recalled the joy of “serving others and brightening up their day.” She joined a group of about two dozen students making the trek to the center, a residence for retired people, a few blocks from the school.

There they were expecting to help out with exercise, read stories and assist with an arts and crafts activity.

Charlie Green, one of the activities directors, welcomed the students and introduced them to the home for 150 adults between the ages of “80 and 103.”

Many of the residents, he told the students, had grown up in this neighborhood and now are unable to interact in the community. Many went to St. Elizabeth’s, he told them, adding, “We really appreciate having you here.”

He invited them to “keep an open mind and really enjoy meeting the residents.”
The open mind helped as students gathered to assist residents at exercise time.

Students lifted arms and legs, smiling shyly at first, then unselfconsciously, to the delight of some of the residents.

Music therapist Alison Cocovich put care center residents through some exercises. When she picked up her guitar at music time, things got rocking. She sang, “You are My Sunshine,” “Over the Rainbow” and “Home on the Range,” as students assisted residents with musical instruments.

“Keep an open mind,” seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Pamela Emeahara told her seventh-graders who, for the first time, joined the high school students for the service day.

The intrepid Lake Merritt group cast its nets and retrieved paper and plastic bags, cigarettes, clams. And they received a number of “thank yous” from noontime walkers and joggers around the lake.

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