“We have never been welcomed like that in a school before!” said Father Lou DelFra, addressing the student body of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Elementary School in Westwego, after the students’ performance, with hand motions, of the upbeat hymn “Every Move I Make.”
“There’s some energy in this room. I love it!” Father Lou said.
Father Lou, spiritual director of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), was at Our Lady of Prompt Succor last month to thank the school for welcoming two Notre Dame students onto its faculty as they pursued their master’s degrees in education.
Father Lou kicked off the rally by asking the Our Lady of Prompt Succor students to give a standing ovation for all their teachers. The visiting priest also lavished praise on the students themselves.
“You guys are amazing in the classroom; you’re amazing in the sports; and I hear you’re also amazing in service and charity,” said Father Lou, pointing to the Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s recent drive to raise money for rebuilding efforts in the Philippines.
During the assembly, Father Lou honored Archbishop Gregory Aymond with Notre Dame’s Father Edward Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools.
Accepting the award on the archbishop’s behalf, Dr. Jan Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic Schools, gave the assembled students three “homework assignments” – things that any student enrolled in a Catholic school or parish school of religion could do:
• Thank your family for the gift of Catholic education.
• Thank your teachers.
• Make a conscious effort every day to make the world a better place. Those actions could be as simple as befriending a lonely student or helping out at home without being asked, Dr. Lancaster said.
After the award ceremony, Our Lady of Prompt Succor put on a “Student Showcase” featuring performances by the streamer team, choir and a cheer honoring school patron St. John Bosco.
Before leading the final blessing, Father Lou told the young people that they were being prayed for in a special way every Monday morning.
“Nobody (at Notre Dame) goes straight to their office on Monday morning,” the priest said. “The first place everybody goes is down to our chapel. Monday morning Mass is offered for all the ACE teachers and their students,” he said.
“So when you guys are walking in here on Monday morning, you’re a little tired from the weekend and you’re rubbing sleep out of your eyes, we want you to know we’re praying for you to begin your new school week. We’re asking the Holy Spirit to shine light on your minds, enkindle your hearts and get you fired up for a new week of school.”
Two Our Lady of Prompt Succor eighth graders – Amanda Payne and Michael Anthony – took to the stage to tell Father Lou what their Catholic education meant to them.
“I don’t feel held back from learning,” Amanda said. “All of the teachers are always making sure we’re getting a great education and good moral values. Everyone here is nice. We are like a family, and I like that.”
Michael said his Catholic education has instilled in him reverence for all of God’s creation.
“They taught me to be kind to others and respectful to teachers and adults,” Michael said. “I think I’ll be great next year in high school because I have the ability and courage to choose to do right.”