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Red Stick Fest goes virtual; youth find ‘belonging’ in faith

Posted September 8, 2020 at 3:44 pm

By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Teens took a deep look at what it means to belong to the modern world, within the church and ultimately to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at this year’s Red Stick Catholic Fest on Aug. 29. The event, themed “Belong,” was hosted by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

Father Mathew Dunn, parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Church in Prairieville, leads a eucharistic procession from the church’s parish activity center to the church for eucharistic adoration and benediction. Photos by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 


Because of the coronavirus pandemic there were two avenues youth

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    COVID-19 challenges for young people

    The novel COVID-19 struck our country with an undeniable amount of incredible force. With hospitals being overwhelmed with thousands of sick patients, civilians scared out of their minds, schools, workplaces and places of worship closing their doors, it is clear that this pandemic has wreaked havoc.

    Many agree the effects of the coronavirus will have a severe and lasting impact on the future. Being a teenager during this time of crisis has its own unique challenges. Our school year cut short, encounters with isolation, uncertainty of the future and experiencing

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    Let your voice be heard by casting a voite

    Upon learning of the news of George Floyd’s passing, I shared in the utter despair felt by many across the nation. I wish that I could say that I am shocked but, unfortunately, this appears to be the new norm.  

    This is something that happens way too often and seemingly nothing is done. Each time something like this happens, I would always pray and hope that it would be different but it never

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    Principals ready for a new school year

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator

    Leadership at a number of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge will feature some new faces and some familiar ones when the 2020-21 school year kicks off in August.

    Superintendent Dr. Melanie Palmisano released a list of the new administrators at the end of May. Among them is Jason Chauvin, currently principal of Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, who will also take over the top job at Catholic High School of Pointe Coupee.

    In her statement, Palmisano noted that the appointment

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    Cristo Rey’s first graduation

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator

    Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School is planning a celebratory drive-in ceremony for its inaugural graduating class.

    The event is scheduled May 23 at 1 p.m. at the school, where a stage will be set up across from the school’s office. Each graduate will be allowed to have one car with their family, and they will be directed to a parking spot in front of the stage.

    Graduates will be able to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas from principal Claire Willis and president Eric

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    Schools find unique ways to celebrate graduates

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator 

    From drive-bys to drive-throughs, home visits to virtual videos, graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 have taken on a variety of forms.  

    Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville principal Sandy Pizzolato delivered diplomas to seniors for graduation, including her daughter Katie. Photo provided by Sandy Pizzolato  


    For more than two months, students finished their

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    Garrison Landry, a senior at Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville, tosses his cap in the air as his parents, Kristen and Brent Landry look on. Principal Sandy Pizzolato delivered diplomas to each graduate. Photo provided by Michael Tortorich  

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    St. Theresa drive-by briefly unites students, teachers

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator  

    With pom-poms, posters, lawn chairs and even a bubble machine, teachers from St. Theresa of Avila School in Gonzales lined up their cars, trucks and SUVs in an empty parking lot across from the school for a special drive-by to wave at parents and students, whom they hadn’t seen face-to-face in more than a month.  

    Teachers and administrators of St.

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    Outdoor Stations of the Cross highlight area neighborhoods

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator 

    When Gov. John Bel Edwards shut down schools across the state on March 13, St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge parishioner Lauren Walker modeled her home school schedule on her three young children’s regular school schedule.  

    Lauren Walker talks with her children, pictured from left, Emily, Davis and Miller, in front of their homemade Station of the Cross. Walker shared the idea with

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    Elementary school students throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge are a new distance learning atmosphere, including in the New Roads area, according to Megan Girlinghouse, first teacher at Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads and director of the summer Camp Sting at the school. Photo provided by Megan Girlinghouse | Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee

    Students making transition from classroom to homes

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator

    From textbooks to Chromebooks, iPads and laptops, education in the Diocese of Baton Rouge has shifted easily from campus to home for the majority of Catholic school students during the COVID-19 health crisis.

    Kelly Broussard, a middle school teacher at Sacred Heart School in Baton Rouge, is one of many teachers with children at home and said there is much shifting between roles with distance learning. With a master’s degree in educational technology, Broussard is also providing technical support to fellow teachers, adding even more dimensions to an already full day.

    “I think

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    Youth legislators pass bills

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator

    The governor, representing the state of Louisiana, stood at the podium announcing each bill previously approved by the Legislature and his decision to either sign the bill into law or to veto the legislation. 

    Eighth-grade students from Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Jude schools in Baton Rouge and St. Theresa of Avila School in Gonzales participate in Youth Legislature at the Old State Capitol March 2 and 3. They were

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    The sound of silence

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator  

    More than a dozen pre-K students, clad in pajamas for a special lesson of the day on hibernation, tiptoed into St. Jude the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge with their index finger on their lips to remind them to stay quiet.   

    Students at St. Jude the Apostle Church School in Baton Rouge attend adoration during Catholic Schools Week. Students say they

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    Students in fifth grade at St. Elizabeth School in Paincourtville participated in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program at the Assumption Community Center in Napoleonville in February. Students who participated in the program are : Braelyn Davis, Jeslyn Free, Ella Hahn, Andee Zimmerman, John-Michael Boudreaux, Samuel  Blanchard, Ta’laih Schonberg, Morrigan Henry, Hadleigh Hebert, Allie Theriot, Campbell Rowland, Anderson  Paine, Kenneth Jenkins, Kaelan Thomas, Talon Torres, Lecta Loland and Shawn Dages. Photo provided by Sister Alphonse Maria CMC | St. Elizabeth School  

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    Kaitlyn Dugas, pictured left, and Madison Folse, seniors at Catholic High School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, organized a service project called Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The students organized collections during homeroom for theme dress days along with “Pie a Teacher” for a donation. The students raised $833.59. Photo provided by Meghan Girlinghouse | Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee  

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    Holy Ghost School in Hammond chose “March for Life” as their March stewardship. In addition to donning green shirts and accessories, students also participated in a “mini-March” around the block.  Student Layla Hook shows her support during the march. Students donated nearly $1,600. Photo provided by Cindy Wagner | Holy Ghost School 

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    Maddie Wilson, an eighth-grader at St. George School in Baton Rouge, has been selected as a finalist in the Louisiana Students of the Year Program. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and community involvement while maintaining high academic scores and participating in numerous extra-curricular activities. Wilson and six other finalists for her grade level will compete for top honors during a daylong program on Wednesday, April 1, at the Department of Education in Baton Rouge. Pictured, from left, are Jack Nelson, St. George principal, Wilson and Angele Fontenot,

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    St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine held its St. Joseph Altar on March 15 to a much-reduced attendance. Take-out was offered and volunteers also packaged and mailed 18 large boxes to soldiers primarily overseas and to those at various locations in the United States. Left over baking items and four large boxes of cookies were delivered to the Sisters of Mercy at St. Agnes Church in Baton Rouge for their soup kitchen. Pictured is Jacob Berthelot.  

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    Children’s Garden

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator

    In the green space between buildings at Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, dozens of children are talking, laughing and gardening. Tiny hands work the soil of potted plants, pulling grass and weeds and checking to see if the plants need water. 

    Students at Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads work in their school garden. 

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    Prayer tools build youths’ faith

    By Debbie Shelley

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Headlines about young Catholics becoming disengaged, some even leaving the Catholic Church, leave many discouraged.  

    But trusting their messages that they are interested in learning the traditions and prayers of the church brings the hope of keeping them connected, according to priests of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

    “When it comes to getting kids involved in prayer many adults might say, ‘Okay we’re going to the adoration chapel’

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    Second and third generation students at St. Alphonsus Liguori School in Greenwell Springs gathered in the gym to recognize the school’s legacy.  Photo provided by Jamee Brennan | St. Alphonsus School 

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    During Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Michael G. Duca celebrated Mass at St. Elizabeth School in Paincourtville. He reminded students and faculty to nourish their faith by going to Mass, reading Scripture and praying. Photo provided by Sister Marie Alphonse CMC | St. Elizabeth School

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    Sixth-grade students at Catholic Elementary of Pointe Coupee in New Roads presented the second annual Krewe of 6th parade before dismissing for the Mardi Gras holiday. The students voted on the theme and planned, created and worked on everything themselves. The sixth-grade class selected a Mardi Gras Queen, Kathy Robillard (former school secretary), to be presented during the parade. Elementary students lined the hallways as the Krewe of 6th parade rolled through throwing beads, candy and other fun items.

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    Fifth-grade students at St. Jean Vianney School in Baton Rouge created Valentine cards for military servicemen and women overseas to be included in care packages put together by Baton Rouge Soldier Outreach. Photo provided by Claire Delaune | St. Jean Vianney School

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    Eighth graders at Holy Ghost School in Hammond spent a week touring the city of Hammond and the surrounding area.  Pictured, front row from left, are Jude Delatte, Connor Dauterive, Maggie Elkins and Ben Lucas; back row are Kate Lucas, Emily Wagner, Melissa Bordelon, Stephanie Newman, Mayor Pete Panepinto, Charles Ragan, Samuel Yenni, Noah Slaton and Lacy Landrum. Photo provided by Cindy Wagner | Holy Ghost School 

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    Students at Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads participate in Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser for the American Heart Association. The event raised more than $11,000. Photo provided by Megan Girlinghouse | Catholic Elementary of Pointe Coupee

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    Mater Dolorosa School in Independence recognized their Students of the Year, pictured from left, eighth-grader Braylyn Wright and fifth-grader Chloe Hebert. Photo provided by Erin Mendez | Mater Dolorosa School  

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    Donations emphasize students’ commitment to social justice

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Shortly before the start of the 10 a.m. Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge, a trailer from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge was set up in the parking lot to accept donations from hundreds of school children and faculty members who would be arriving soon.  

    During Catholic Schools Week, students from throughout the

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    Diocese celebrates CSW

    By Bonny Van

    The Catholic Commentator  

    Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Baton Rouge kicked off Jan. 27 with the annual Distinguished Graduates Banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge.  

    Following Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge, awards were presented to Glynis Davis, a teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, for Distinguished Educator; Ellen Lee,

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    90 DAYS IN 90th YEAR

    Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Baton Rouge celebrated the 90th day of school during its 90th year on Jan. 9 with students and faculty dressed in 90s-themed clothing and competed in a 90s trivia contest. The celebration included lessons in dial-up Internet and the Oregon Trail.  Pictured dressed as 90s characters “Wayne” and “Garth” are kindergarten teacher Brandi Clay and fourth-grader Luke Partin dressed as Wayne, while kindergartner Jordy Partin and art teacher Rayma Farlow dressed as Garth.  Photo provided by Lisa

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