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Keeping Faith

To help her students put faith into action, religion teacher Kathy Scott, joined in collaboration with her daughter, Niki Scott, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

Kathy started the Giving Our Donations (GOD) project with her junior high students at Most Precious Blood School in Denver to raise money to paint a three-room school that villagers were building in Hato del Yaque, a barrio outside Santiago. In six weeks, 50 students raised more than $500, double the amount needed to paint the school.

“One girl has donated all her baby-sitting money earned every weekend,” Kathy said. “One went to all her neighbors and friends and begged change.”

What was left over will go to a scholarship fund for high school-age girls lacking money for tuition, uniforms and other expenses. The social concerns committee at Most Precious Blood Parish also donated $500 to the scholarship fund, which is run by a committee of Peace Corps volunteers.

Niki, 24, who finished her Peace Corps service in October 1998, came to her mother’s school for a presentation on life in the Dominican Republic and to show how the students’ money was being used. “It opens these kids’ eyes to the way the rest of the world lives,” Niki said. The students asked “all sorts of questions” about daily life, transportation, homes, schools, jobs and “what they do for fun,” she said.

Lou Schwartzsays his ministry is to bring “the nonviolent love of Jesus into the violence called D.C. jail.”

Schwartz, a member of Christ the King Parish in Washington, said he also wants “to raise the consciousness of the Christian community to the cries for mercy from the hurting bodies and souls within the tiny cages” of the North Lockdown Unit of the jail.

As associate chaplain, Schwartz celebrates the Liturgy of the Word with the inmates every Friday and then visits each inmate, distributing reflection notes on the liturgy, Bibles and amenities.

He calls parole boards, families and lawyers for the inmates. He coordinates a prison pen pal program and correspondence classes. Schwartz is also hoping to establish a support program for men released on parole.

Send suggestions for Keeping Faith to Teresa Malcolm at NCR. Her E-mail address is tmalcolm@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, February 12, 1999