Faith & Service at St. Mary Catholic Schools
The foundation of St. Mary Catholic Schools is our Catholic identity, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the inspiration and guide to our schools in every dimension: in our philosophy, curriculum and community life, and in the selection and formation of our teachers, as well as in the physical environment of each school.
SMCS faculty and staff are expected to know, support and model the teachings of the Catholic Church, and Catholic identity is intentionally integrated into the academic curriculum. It is also the foundation of the philosophy and expectations that are part of co-curricular activities and competitions.
The SMCS family is a faith-based community that nurtures the spiritual lives of students, families, faculty and staff. A variety of faith opportunities are present to encourage the community to worship and pray together. Each school actively promotes service and social justice experiences as an integral part of the school, and all SMCS schools are welcoming, inclusive and safe for all who enter their doors.
Uniting Prayer (Recited at every SMCS meeting, activity and school day)
Mary, our patron and mother of us all … pray for us! Live Jesus in our hearts… forever!
Faith & Service at St. Mary Catholic Middle School
The spiritual development of all students at St. Mary Catholic Middle School is encouraged and guided through a program of individual and group activities. Our theology curriculum, a dynamic retreat program, expansive community service opportunities, immersion in sacramental life, and weekly prayer groups shape the faith experience. Our goal is to educate the Church leaders of tomorrow.
6th Grade (Required Courses)
- Divine revelation through scripture
- Covenants made between God and His people
- Fulfillment of Covenants in Jesus
- Family Life program
- Varieties of prayer experiences
Texts used: Be My Disciples, Family Life. New American Bible, and Catholic Youth Bible
7th Grade (Required Courses)
- Early Life of Christ- Exploring what life would have been like during Jesus’ time
- Christ’s Ministry- Gaining an understanding of Jesus’ teachings
- Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ- along with Liturgical Year
- Writers of the Gospels and Literary Works in the Bible
- Letters (Romans, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews)
- Family Life is continued, discussing topics such as Communication and Community.
Texts used: Be My Disciples, Family Life, with Sadlier as supplement text
8th Grade (Required Courses)
- Be My Disciples text series: Christ in the Liturgy. Exploring the mystery of the Church, understanding what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ, and gaining deeper insight into prayer and the Sacraments.
- Reading the Acts of the Apostles to gain an understanding of the early Church.
- Be My Disciples text series: Life in Christ Jesus. Exploring the call to moral living and the way to moral living.
- Reviewing the liturgical seasons of the year, and practicing seasonal devotions and prayers.
- Presenting the RCL Benziger Family Life program for the 8th grade as part of Catholic sexuality education.
Retreat experiences are an important part of faith development and an excellent tool for team-building among classmates and their teachers. Our retreat program includes both days of reflection and overnight experiences, with a different focus for each age level.
Sixth grade days of reflection are single, daylong events that usually take place in November and April. The focus of the fall event is on team-building and adjusting to middle school life. The later retreat has a theme of being peacemakers, and helps to prepare them for taking the next steps in their faith and academic journeys.
Within the first two weeks of school, the seventh and eighth grade classes combine for a team-building day at a camp facility. At the end of the day, the seventh graders return home and the eighth graders stay for an overnight experience to develop their class bonds and sense of responsibility as the new leaders of the school. Most overnight retreats take place at local camp facilities such as Camp Tekawitha.
In the spring, both the seventh and eighth classes embark on a retreat with their own classmates; usually in April and May, respectively.
Most retreats are led by our campus minister and faculty members, and occasionally by the SMCHS middle school retreat team. Parent chaperones and group leaders are often needed (parent volunteers must be VIRTUS®trained).
Each day at SMCMS begins in the classroom with prayer. All students, faculty and staff join in community prayer before lunch and at the end of each day. Prayer in various forms is part of each grade’s religion curriculum, and students are often asked or reminded to pray for each other’s special intentions in times of need.
Every Thursday, the SMCMS community gathers for a liturgy or prayer service (alternating each week), with the exception of Holy Days, which is when the middle and high school communities to worship together.
Each STAR group takes a turn planning for and hosting a Mass in the FAEC, and each religion class plans and hosts two prayer services each year. Student and faculty musicians provide the music. Often, the celebrations include the host students sharing reflections, performing short, reverent skits or singing special songs. All parents and community members are invited to join us for these liturgies.
During the seasons of Advent and Lent, we are involved in a variety of special projects in addition to encouraging students to participate in what their home parishes have to offer. During both major church seasons, SMCMS organizes a school-wide service project that usually involves collecting and sometimes delivering special items to selected organizations. A school-wide visual project representing the meaning of each season also takes place.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is always an important time during each of these seasons when students are prepared for the sacrament in religion classes and participate in an all-school penance service. Afterwards, area priests celebrate the Sacrament of healing and forgiveness in face-to-face sessions for those who wish.
In the Diocese of Green Bay, sacramental preparation is handled through each student’s home parish. The family of any student who has not experienced the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation and/or Eucharist is encouraged to contact their home parish.
Our Catholic-Christian faith calls us to be of service to others. Because this is an important aspect of following the teachings of Jesus, an emphasis on service is in integral part of daily life at SMCMS. This focus is based in scripture. Christ’s actions of service are examples to us all, and He said “I have come to serve, not to be served.”
A minimum of 12 hours of documented service per year (at least three per school quarter) is required as part of a student’s religion grade. This requirement is counted as part of a student’s grade in religion class.
In addition to these individual requirements, SMCMS students frequently participate as STAR groups in various service opportunities, including volunteering at Double Portions food pantry and collecting items for organizations needing food, books, personal care items, etc. to serve their clientele.
Each week at the liturgy or prayer service, our students are asked to contribute to the monetary collection. Students are encouraged to donate money that they have earned from home or that is part of their allowance. The money collected is donated each month to a charity that is chosen by the SMCS student council. Recipients in the past have included Catholic Charities, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, St. Vincent de Paul and Fox Valley Warming Shelter.
Students are encouraged to participate in the numerous service projects organized by their home parishes, particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and during Advent and Lent.
SMCMS sponsors a Builders Club, which is linked to the Neenah-Menasha Kiwanis organization. The purpose of the club is to build leaders through service, and many students from all three grades participate actively in this organization.
Elizabeth Ann Seton Service Award
Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born saint, started the first American parochial school and orphanage where she cared for the poor. She also began the first American community of women religious, following the example of St. Vincent de Paul. Like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, we are called to a life of service and love of God.
With the celebration of the church’s New Year, SMCMS asks all students to reflect on their commitment to living a life like that of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Because people often make a new-year’s resolution at the start of a new calendar year, each year, we ask students to make an Advent resolution to grow in faith, love and service of others. This is a resolution that we encourage each student to commit to, regardless of what day or season it is.
By completing the following, any SMCMS student can earn a Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award and be recognized for his or her efforts at the end-of-the-year awards celebration. Participation in this program is completely optional and will not be reflected in the Religion class grade. Please note that these requirements are in addition to the service hours already due each quarter. To earn the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, a student applicant must do the following.
Requirement #1: Live as a disciple of Christ, setting a positive example for other youth. (Required: Actively participate in all school liturgies & prayer services as confirmed by the self-reflection sheet (must be signed by religion teacher) and two of the following):
- Obtain the recommendation of one adult other than a relative
- Secure a document confirming active participation in regular church liturgies parish recommendation (may be signed by deacon, priest or parish minister)
- Return a signed parent recommendation form
Requirement #2: Witness to one’s faith by exhibiting Christian morals and integrity. (Required: Participate in an interview with religion teacher to discuss the requirements listed above and one of the following):
- Submit a one-page, typed statement (double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman) describing his/her faith, beliefs, and daily prayer life and how he/she is an example to others
- Submit a four-week faith journal that will describe student’s Christian morals and integrity
Requirement #3: Demonstrate Gospel values through service to others. (Required: both of the following):
- Submit a student service log showing service to others completed on a regular basis
- Complete at least 12 hours of service between December 1 and April 30 of the current school year
Requirement #4: Exhibit Christian leadership in parish, school, community and family. (Required: During interview, student must list and describe service to others in each of these areas (at least one hour in each). Student service log (from #3 above) will be reviewed to confirm this leadership.)
Students striving for a second year award, must show three additional hours of service (total of 15)
Students striving for a third year award must show three additional hours of service (total of 15), plus show proof of attending an additional prayer experience in church or youth group, beyond your weekend commitment to liturgy. See religion teacher for details and approval of activity.