Saints receive Christian service award


Hannah Gage, Staff Writer

Not resting on its laurels as a global service award recipient, NDP will bring in one of its own, Garrett Riggio, to speak about his Red Road Foundation when charism groups meet on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Riggio, one of  NDP’s alumni who gives back to the community, will talk about his mission to reach out to the impoverished children of the world through the Red Road Foundation he and his sister started. The school will be on a Gold Day schedule Tuesday for this assembly, followed by charism group meetings. Purple Day will follow for Mass on Ash Wednesday.

Because of its Christian service program and school-wide religious events, Catholic Relief Services recognized NDP as a Gold Level Global High School on Jan. 6.

Catholic Relief Services, NDP’s chosen charity project for the month of February, is the “largest Catholic organization that provides relief in poor and war-torn countries,” said Leslie Gjerstad, director of Christian service learning.

Senior Elle Dietz, co-president of the Christian Service League, said the core program that contributed to NDP’s Gold Level honor is the annual day of fasting on Ash Wednesday, when NDP will have a Simple Meal. No food except tortillas and beans will be served in the cafeteria in a show of solidarity with those suffering from starvation in impoverished countries. Also, no snack sales will be provided, and no vending machines will be open. The CRS donation rice bowls serve as a reminder of the poverty and struggles in other parts of the world during the Lenten season.

One of the necessary criteria to be considered a Gold Level high school is participation in the CRS Rice Bowl program, Mrs. Gjerstad said.  This program “helps Catholics put their faith into action by praying with their families and faith communities, fasting in solidarity with those who hunger and learning about the challenges of poverty overseas and giving to those in need,” according to the CRS website.

Other requirements to earn the Gold Level Catholic Relief Services Global High School distinction were to have at least two school-wide religious events, including praying the rosary and Eucharistic procession. In addition, NDP partners each month with different organizations in the community, such as Maggie’s Place.

Notre Dame Prep has been working with Maggie’s Place, “a home where homeless pregnant women with nowhere to go can live during their pregnancies and the first few months of motherhood,” for years, said senior Sydney Bettis, co-president of Christian Service League and Maggie’s Place coordinator.

According to Bettis, in addition to the recent jeans day donations, NDP is donating household items to the mothers in need to help them get back on their feet. Bettis is even hoping to organize a trip for NDP students to visit the Phoenix location and volunteer for the day.

The school’s new ties with Catholic Relief Services will lead to the development of new CRS-affiliated Young Neighbors in Action service trips that will be available for students, Mrs. Gjerstad said. Then, in about 10 years, NDP will be upgraded to a Platinum level school, an honor reserved for long-term, established Christian service programs. Mrs. Gjerstad, she will continue to organize Christian service events that set apart the NDP community.

This Lenten season, Pope Francis has asked Christians to reach out to and do good for those in need. According to Pope Francis, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting…if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”