The four core values of St. Joseph Catholic School are Faith, Stewardship, Community, and Commitment. The values of Faith and Stewardship spring from the traditions of the Catholic Church, and the values of Community and Commitment evolve from the Church through the local parish.
The faith of our fathers has long been alive in St. Joseph Parish. Although they find it difficult to name specific reasons why, many older people who were parishioners at one time or are still in the parish feel that they have an unusually strong sense of faith. The devotion of many of these older folks and many of the younger parishioners as well, is impressive in their commitment to the Mass and other faith based activities in the parish such as the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Novena. Very telling of the faith commitment present at St. Joseph is the fact that such a small parish is able to maintain an Adoration Chapel that is open around the clock, every day of the year.
The Catholic Faith also underscores everything we do at St. Joseph Catholic School. Facets of the Faith are integrated into all academic learning. We also incorporate regular religious ceremonies such as bi-weekly participation in the Mass; monthly attendance at benediction; and daily prayer, including the devotions to St. Joseph into our school routine. In addition to these regular liturgical activities, we celebrate seasonal liturgies such as Advent and Lent through prayer rituals, and Mary’s months by having the Living Rosary for the parish during October and a May Crowning ceremony.
St. Joseph Parish was founded in 1866, and the school community dates back to 1917 when it was opened under the leadership of Father Dennis Healy, and BVM Sisters Mary Margretta and Mary Manuel. Because of its long history and small size, the sense of community found here is one of the first things that newcomers notice. Within the parish, adults feel welcome and at home whether they are first or fourth generation families, and that experience is replicated at the school.
Students find a welcoming atmosphere throughout the building and are given the sense that they are part of something special. This feeling is encouraged through weekly assemblies attended by the entire student body, annual retreats with older students leading the younger in activities, sharing equipment and space on the playground, and ongoing reminders to treat others as Jesus would. In the words of a student new to the middle school: “It’s a small school. The kind of school where you say, “What’s up?” to a kindergartner and they say “What’s up? I know their name and they know my name too."
The present commitment to the parish and school was made quite clear during a series of listening sessions that were held in the spring of 2005, as the parish and school families grappled with the financial challenge that supporting a school brings to a small parish. During those sessions it became quite clear that the entire parish was committed to providing Catholic education to all of its children. As with the other values, that commitment is connected to the long standing traditions of the Church and parish regarding the educational mission of the Church.
The children of St. Joseph Catholic School are regularly reminded of the importance of that commitment to the church, parish, and school during their educational lives here. Starting with kindergarten when they are gift bearers at Mass and ending with their eighth grade year in which they are called on to be student leaders, they are lead to value that sense of commitment as they serve their church and school.
St. Joseph Catholic School found its roots in the Stewardship way of life, as early parishioners spent their evenings and weekends building their own church and school. That commitment to Stewardship has always been a cornerstone of a parish in which people have always “chipped in” to see that things got done. For years, there has been total parish involvement in the operation of the Annual Parish Dinner; and more recently our parents and older parishioners have been cleaning the school each day.
In our school, the children are regularly reminded of the Stewardship that their parents and the other parishioners provide to make their school possible. They are also given many opportunities to be stewards themselves. We have a Stewards of Christ Program in which children are recognized for providing an age appropriate number of hours of service to their family, parish, or community; we provide baby gifts to the mothers and babies of Gerard House each Christmas. Through activities such as these, the children are reminded that Jesus called on us to care for our brothers and sisters.