By Cara Hansen
December 21, 2015, West Palm Beach, Florida – Service to others is an integral part of the Rosarian Academy community. By offering service opportunities throughout the year, the West Palm Beach Catholic school aims to graduate students who live this lifelong message and make a positive difference in the world.
An even greater focus on giving and service is emphasized during the holiday season. Over the past month, Rosarian students participated in Food for Families and a toy drive and organized Christmas parties at The Lord’s Place and Opportunity, Inc.
Coordinated by the eighth grade, Rosarian Academy continued its annual community food drive October 28 to November 20 in conjunction with News Channel 5 Bill Brooks Food for Families. They collected 2,600 pounds of non-perishable food to provide needy families with a plentiful Thanksgiving. Once again, the school worked with St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church and donated the canned food collection to their van ministry and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“The generosity of many wonderful people went a long way toward helping us provide food to many needy people who walk into our parish office,” wrote Father Arthur Venezia, pastor of St. Paul of the Cross, in a thank you letter to the Rosarian families.
For more than 12 years, the seventh-grade class has led the school-wide effort to collect unwrapped toys for local needy children who may not otherwise receive anything for Christmas. After spending two and a half weeks collecting toys, Rosarian students on December 16 loaded a Palm Beach County Health Department truck with over 500 unwrapped toys. In addition, Student Council also sold candy canes, bringing in $470 to purchasing toys for the drive. The Health Department distributes the toys to children in Palm Beach County who are currently benefiting from their services.
“I am overwhelmed with joy at the generous hearts of our Rosarian students and families,” said Steve Rubenacker, Head of School. “As a community, we far surpassed our original goal of collecting 300 toys. One week prior to the pick-up of the toys, we raised the goal to 400. Over 500 toys were collected and will make hundreds of children in Palm Beach County happy this Christmas. “What a beautiful testament to the true Christmas spirit!”
Many middle school students also spent time organizing Christmas events for two local non-profit organizations: The Lord’s Place on December 15, and Opportunity, Inc., on December 17. With the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) at the helm, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students decorated Christmas ornaments and cookies and made crafts with the children who reside at The Lord’s Place Family Campus and those who attend Opportunity Early Childhood Education and Family Center.
“It makes me happy and excited to work with the kids and make them feel better about themselves,” said eighth grader Emma Guerrieri, President of the school’s NJHS Chapter. “I love giving back to those who are less fortunate.”
Rosarian Academy, founded in 1925, educates students from early childhood through eighth grade and offers an exceptionally strong academic program enriched by athletics, visual and performing arts, and community service opportunities. The independent, Catholic school is located in downtown West Palm Beach and is sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Rosarian is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. For more information, visit www.rosarian.org or call 561-832-5131.
By Sister Peggy Coyne, OP
December 17, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – When I was a young nurse working in an ICU at a large teaching hospital in the Bronx, we were required to work every other holiday. I worked one Christmas Eve and had to double back on Christmas Day.
One of my patients, David, was a fairly young man who was quite ill – sick but stable. During the eight-hour shift, he talked of being a scientist. He loved astronomy and was fascinated by the universe. A little after 11:00 p.m., I said good bye to David and told him that I would see him in the morning. He said no, I would not see him, because he was going to die and a comet was coming for him. His face radiated peace as he said this.
I replied, “Comet?” He said, “Yes,” and we looked out the window where he pointed to a group of stars. In a rush to get home, I smiled and said, “I’ll see you later.”
During my drive home, I kept looking toward the sky for the comet David was sure would come for him. I saw stars and the moon, but nothing resembling a comet.
Well, in less than two hours, he was gone. When I came in at 7:00 a.m., his cubicle was indeed empty. His face and smile are with me still. Not a Christmas has passed that I do not think of David and the comet. I was gifted with his sense of internal peace. There was no struggle; he seemed to know that he would be in a safe place. The comet was his comfort.
When I hear the carol, “The First Noel,” I am struck by the words, “They looked up and saw a star.” I always say a prayer for David, who taught me to take time to look at the stars.