By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
A few weeks ago, Sister Annamarie Marcalus, OSF, received a surprise postcard from St. Joseph Catholic School in DeWitt. On the back was a handwritten note from a third-grader: “We are blessed to have you in our diocese. Thank you for answering God’s call to your vocation. You will remain in our prayers.”
Touched by the postcard, she soon realized all of her Clinton Franciscan sisters had received one, as well. “(They) agreed with me that those cards were a wonderful, thoughtful surprise. The students modeled their mission statement, ‘Change the World With Kindness,’” Sister Marcalus said.
In February, students from the DeWitt school celebrated Vocations Day by sending handwritten postcards to priests, deacons and religious sisters in the Diocese of Davenport. “We wanted to thank them for their ministry to Catholics in the Davenport Diocese,” said Principal Sharon Roling. She recalled participating in a similar project while working at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, but it was a first for DeWitt. She said it seemed like a perfect COVID-19 friendly activity for the students.
After receiving the postcards, many clergy and religious sisters sent “thank you” letters and emails to the school. Staff shared the notes with the students.
Fourth-grader Sage Skidmore said, “When I wrote out my postcard, I knew that it would bring a smile to someone’s face. What I did not (anticipate) was that when I received a reply back, a smile would be brought to my face.”
Seventh-grader Zoey Fuglsang sent her postcard to a priest. “I sent my postcard to Father saying I would pray for him, and I also thanked Father for his ministry.” He wrote back saying, “he felt blessed to have me pray for him and he promised he would pray for me.”
A postcard to retired diocesan priest Father Tom Stratman, who served as assistant pastor of St. Joseph Parish in the 1950s, led to a cheerful exchange of memories, Roling said. “Unknown to Father, the student (who sent the postcard) was a third-generation St. Joseph student.” Through an email exchange, Father Stratman shared memories from the seven years he worked in the parish and school. “Some of St. Joe’s history was remembered and shared with the student’s dad, grandfather and other relatives,” Roling said.
Father Stratman later told The Catholic Messenger, “I like sharing memories. I cherish the parishes I served and the special people I met. St. Joe’s was my first assignment; the first assignment is one of the most memorable because that’s where you get your start.” Receiving the “beautiful” postcard “touched my heart in a very nice way.”