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Catholic School Advantage - A Letter from New York

on Friday, 09 December 2011.

by Field Consultant Rudy Vargas

Rudy Vargas is ACE’s Field Consultant for the Catholic School Advantage campaign in the Archdiocese of New York. He sends this update on a success story he has seen while working with the people of various elementary and secondary schools in the Bronx and elsewhere in the New York City area.

“One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.”
– Scottish Clergyman Peter Marshall (1902-1949)

I have been visiting with madrinas in these past few months in my work with the Catholic School Advantage campaign in New York. The madrinas groups have been initiated since June 2011 as one of our major strategies to increase Latino enrollment and retention. These visits with madrinas have been a blessing.

From the Field: Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C.

on Thursday, 08 December 2011.

Father Joe Corpora, C.S.C., an alumnus of Notre Dame and a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross, is the director of University-School Partnerships in ACE. He works to build lasting alliances with schools and dioceses as leader of ACE's Catholic School Advantage campaign, the initiative to double the percentage of Latinos who send their children to Catholic elementary and secondary schools by 2020.

Father Joe served at the University of Portland in Oregon for six years before beginning two decades as a pastor-first at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona, a parish that is 90% Mexican-American and Mexican, and then at Holy Redeemer Parish in Portland, Oregon. In the former position, he founded the first Catholic school to be opened in the Diocese of Phoenix in thirty years. He returned to Notre Dame in 2009.

Texas Advocates Region to Host February Retreat

on Tuesday, 06 December 2011.

All Are Welcome!

Texas Retreat MobileThe Dallas and Austin ACE Advocates invite you to join them this February for a regional retreat at Balcones Springs, a retreat center located an hour outside of Austin.This weekend of reflection and prayer will take place from Friday, February 17 to Sunday, February 19, and welcomes all who love Catholic schools.

Spend your Presidents' Day weekend reconnecting with friends, resting in this peaceful and much-loved site of ACE Teaching Fellows's annual December Retreat, and being reinvigorated to continue the mission of ACE Advocates. Fr. Lou and other members of the ACE staff look forward to spending the weekend with you!

Register now!  Or, if you have any questions, contact Elizabeth Stewart at .

Gift Boosts Effort to Open Doors to Sports for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 06 December 2011.

Thanks to a gift from Shire Pharmaceuticals, Play Like a Champion Today® will develop educational materials to assist coaches to work with children with a range of learning disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, such as Asperger's Syndrome, and health problems, such as asthma.

A team of national experts will work with directors of the Play Like a Champion program to develop a national initiative preparing youth and high school coaches in the area of exceptionalities. Notre Dame's Play Like a Champion program, now in its sixth year, offers an athlete-centered, research-based approach framing coaching as a character-building enterprise that complements the educational process. More than 17,000 coaches and 4,000 parents have participated in Play Like a Champion workshops where they are encouraged to see athletics as a means of having fun as well as promoting physical and moral development.

Catholic School Advantage: A Letter from Chicago

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 06 December 2011.

by Field Consultant Juana Sanchez

Juana Sanchez is ACE's Field Consultant for the Catholic School Advantage campaign in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She sends this update on a success story she learned about while working with the people of St. Genevieve Catholic School in Chicago.

At St. Genevieve, an elementary school not far from downtown Chicago, students from all backgrounds have been brought closer together by learning about the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe that is deeply rooted in the faith of the school's Latino community.

This learning takes a very tangible and compelling form every year on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, when the school community gathers for the presentation of a play about the Feast. The play had its genesis in one teacher's personal spiritual experience and her desire to serve Our Lady, the Church, and her school.
Daisy Perez, director of development at St. Genevieve, prepared this report on this play, due for its third annual performance on Dec. 12:

A Children's Play of Our Lady of Guadalupe was written, directed, and produced by Heather Cleaver, St. Genevieve Catholic School's second grade teacher. It was co-directed by the fifth grade teacher, Julianna Flores. It was performed by the second and fifth grade students of St. Genevieve School for the past two years and will be performed again this year on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Genevieve Church on Dec. 12, 2011.

The following description of the play is an abridged version of Heather Cleaver's Preface to A Children's Play of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it explains the driving force for the production of the play within the St. Genevieve School setting. [Publication of the play, written by Heather Cleaver and edited by Otilia Nigaglioni, is planned for the late winter in 2012.]

"About ten years ago, I had a strong urge to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (La Virgen de Guadalupe) in Mexico City," Heather Cleaver writes. "I kept having visions in my mind of her image as I was praying. I knew little about her story except what her image looked like and that her image was honored in the Mexican culture. I had a gut feeling that these recurring visions were a sign from God to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe .

"Over the years, I read a lot of literature, looked her up on the internet, and spoke with different people about Our Lady of Guadalupe. People shared with me her story from their own knowledge base. I came to a better understanding about her appearance to Juan Diego. She is mother to all of us, so in her apparitions, she appears to one of the people in the form of a human in their own ethnicity. Mary appeared as an Aztec princess, speaking to Juan Diego in his own Aztec language.

"I didn't really understand why I was called to go to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe until a couple of years ago.... However, a couple of years ago, I had a strong desire to celebrate her. I felt a need to spread Mary's message to my students and the rest of the school. . .

"My school has a very large Mexican/Latin American student population, but as a school we did not celebrate her together. The parish did a lot for the church members, but I strongly felt the school needed to do something as well. I talked this over with my principal, and she agreed that a prayer service was a great idea to move forward in their religious growth. I wanted to create a celebration of their cultural heritage in writing about Our Lady of Guadalupe, so after pondering about it, I decided to write a play to help the students honor and celebrate her. This play is a cultural preservation of Mexican history for generations to come. Acting her story out would help foster children's understanding of Mexican culture and our Catholic history."

This invitation is open to all parishioners and to the community to come and join St. Genevieve Catholic School faculty, staff and students in celebrating La Virgen de Guadalupe."

Accompanying photo: Marlene DeAngelo as Our Lady and Nathan Houlihan as Juan Diego in the school’s 2010 performance of the “Children’s Play of Our Lady of Guadalupe” at St. Genevieve School.

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