Parents With A Purpose
● By Robert Frey
The Parents Ministry At Catholic High SchoolBy Lisa Hanchey
The Parents Ministry at Catholic High School in New Iberia restarted in 2016 after a hiatus and is now going and growing. With the goal of engaging parents in the Catholic High community through service, prayer, education and spiritual growth opportunities, the parents’ ministry has lined up an impressive list of speakers and initiated other purposeful projects. “It’s a pretty informal - we’re not a bureaucratic group,” explains Carrie Templeton, who, along with Robin Bonin and Mike Patin, spearheaded the rebirth of the parents’ ministry. “Any parent at Catholic High is invited to be a part of it.”
Currently, Catholic High’s parents’ ministry has over 130 members on its distribution list. “We would love to have more parents on our distribution list,” Templeton says invitingly. To drive membership, the ministry sets up a table at back-to-school events so that parents can ask questions and get involved. “Just give us your name and you’ll be on the list,” Templeton says.
Templeton is one of about 15 parent coordinators for Catholic High’s parents’ ministry. The group works with the school’s administration to develop ideas for programs and events. One of the first events on the agenda was engaging speakers to address parents’ concerns about their kids.
Last year, Acadiana native Mike Patin, a national motivational speaker who is actively involved in campus ministry, spoke to parents on communication with teenagers. The next speaker was Catholic High alumnus Roy Petitfils, a licensed counselor and national speaker, who gave a presentation to parents on teens and technology. He also spoke to the entire study body on the importance of compassion for others. This year, Tony Robicheaux, UL’s baseball coach, also addressed the students.
How does the ministry get ideas for speakers? “We ask parents what is important to them,” Templeton shares. “We also ask the school administrators what they think we need or what we can do to help.”
Recently, Catholic High’s religion department approached the parents’ ministry about funding a national speaker, Matt Fradd, to discuss pornography’s impact on high school students. Fradd is the author of several books, including “Does God Exist?: A Socratic Dialog on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas” and “The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography.” For Catholic High, he spoke about porn myths. “With technology, a lot of our parents are concerned about what students with devices can very easily wander into,” Templeton explains. “For that reason, Matt Fradd came and gave a very effective presentation to high school students.”
To raise funds for events, the parents’ ministry held a fundraiser, Soups for Souls, in 2017. Parents volunteered to cook simple, filling meals like red beans and rice and chili to sell at school functions. “It’s easy, it’s one night and people go home with a home-cooked meal,” Templeton says. Soups for Souls was so successful that the ministry plans to do it again in 2019.
For 2018, the parents’ ministry expanded its events. This year, parents revived the tradition of building an altar for St. Joseph’s Feast Day, gathering gifts of bread, fruit, candles and religious statues and images. A week prior to the appointed day, students brought in food donations, which the parents’ ministry distributed to three not-for-profit organizations in the New Iberia area. On March 19, students visited the candlelit altar, praying to St. Joseph for his intercession. “We talked about intercessory prayer and St. Joseph, and his importance in the life of the holy family,” Templeton explains. “It took a lot of time, money and people, and we just wanted to have it for the students on the feast day. It went really well.”
The ministry also provided parent volunteers for service days. Along with junior and senior high students, parents went to nine churches throughout the New Iberia area to provide help to parishoners. Many of the boys signed up for grounds keeping and cleaning duties, while the girls crafted pretty crosses on frames and delivered them to the homebound. “It was really nice,” Templeton gushes. “I think the students got a lot out of it, and it got them out into the community.”
Another ministry mission – providing parents for first Friday adoration. Throughout the day, parents sat with the blessed sacrament as students came in and out. “The school had to provide someone before,” Templeton explains, “and now we have parents joining in adoration with the students.”
In May, the parents will once again participate in teacher appreciation. For two weeks, volunteers relieve teachers of their bus and car line duty before and after school. “The teachers love it,” Templeton says. “They enjoy it more than food.”
How does the ministry motivate parents to join? By extending the opportunity to everyone. “We try and find purposeful projects, realizing that certain things are going to be important to some parents and others won’t,” Templeton reasons. “We also realize that we live in a busy world. We want to have opportunities, to support the school and the students, especially with a spiritual focus.”
Carrie gives kudos to Dr. Stella Arabie, Ray Simon and Terry Roussell from Catholic High School’s administration for helping with the parents’ ministry. “They’ve been extremely supportive of the parents’ ministry and provided outstanding feedback on our activities and input on various projects that would help benefit the students,” she says. “The Catholic High development office has been extremely involved in all of our activities and helping us plan for them.”
She also acknowledges the efforts of speaker Mike Patin. “Mike’s been involved in campus ministry and parents’ ministry efforts nationally, and has been extremely encouraging and committed to helping us restart the program a couple of years ago,” Templeton states.
Finally, and most importantly, the parents’ ministry thanks the parents of Catholic High’s students. “We have numerous parents of Catholic High students who have stepped in and varying ways through the parents’ ministry by donating their time in service, participating in our activities, and helping programs and speakers which bring value to the students and Catholic High community.”