By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — With a change in its pre-kindergarten program and parents wanting more instruction about the Catholic faith for their young children, Lourdes Catholic School began Faith Fridays on Oct. 7.
Because the pre-kindergarten program is state funded, it cannot incorporate as much teaching and practice of the faith as Lourdes Catholic School would like, said Principal Jennifer Alongi. So volunteers came forward to create a one-day-a-week faith program that takes place on Fridays, when the state-funded program isn’t in session.
“The idea for Faith Fridays came to me last spring, when we learned that the Pre-K program was moving from five days down to four days every week, but extended by 30 minutes,” said Angie Kaney, a parent and creator of Faith Fridays. “With the open Fridays, it seemed like a great opportunity to share faith with these 4- and 5-year-olds while providing the consistency of getting to go to school every day.”
Kaney said she spent a “good deal of time praying about this, since I knew it would take significant effort to organize.” She also is expecting her fourth child in November. “God continued to answer prayers along the way.”
Lourdes parent Sarah Leinhart heard about the idea and signed up to help, along with Lourdes parishioner Mary Wilder. Altogether, 13 volunteers rotate teaching responsibilities. Volunteers include parents, grandparents and Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners. Fifth-grade teacher Danielle Behnke’s class helps out by rotating four students per week for 30 minutes. Volunteers come each Friday from 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Classes include reading and discussing of a Bible story, age-level worksheets and a craft in addition to prayers and songs. “This is a wonderful gift for the kids and it’s very rewarding,” Wilder said. By the second class Oct. 14, students knew many of the words to songs they learned the previous Friday and some of the gestures. “I teach religious education to kindergartners. I love working with kids. I can share my gifts with them,” Wilder said.
This volunteer ministry is supported by the parish and school, Kaney said. “It’s been a great experience to collaborate with both Ms. Alongi and Sheryl Lackey, business manager at the church.”
Kaney’s daughter, Emelia, is one of 17 students registered for Faith Fridays. A maximum of 20 students is allowed, due to space limits. “We are thinking about expanding and offering an afternoon session next school year. We are prayerfully considering it,” Kaney said.
When she asked her daughter to identify her favorite part of Faith Fridays, Emelia replied, “All of it!”