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Breakfast Brings Faiths Together

This news article highlights the blessings of a Worship Renewal Grant awarded to St. Clare school.

by Ann Fouty
Grosse Pointe News 
October 20, 2005

The breakfast began to satisfy the needs of body and the soul.

Between bites of bagels and grapes, seventh- and eighth-grade St. Clare of Montefalco students talked with ministers and priests from the Grosse Pointes and Detroit. The students were excited to see their home pastors taking an interest in their educational setting, and ministers were building bridges between the faiths and St. Clare’s student body.

From all 12 tables children greeted their guests with a warm smile and shared prayer. These young people were the reason the clergy gathered to open lines of communication between the various religions represented in the room. Home pastors were interested in seeing where the students attended school and meeting their friends.

A Worship Renewal Grant awarded to St. Clare school brought students and clerics to the school for the first-of-its-kind ecumenical breakfast. The clergyman represented children from 15 Catholic parishes and 20 churches that have students attending St. Clare. They were interested in seeing classrooms and laying the groundwork for what more can be done to promote increased common praying and a mentoring program.

The Rev. Gerald Spice of St. James Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms noted this is a way to open lines of communication.

Isabel Peck was part of the Praise Him choir, made up of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who pantomimed a song for the guests of the first ecumenical breakfast. The morning event was to lay groundwork for area churches to work together for the betterment of St. Clare de Montefalco’s students. Photo by Ann L. Fouty

"It’s an opportunity for the churches that have students in this school to learn about the school," he said. "This is expressing unity across denominational lines. It’s a wonderful idea."

The idea of bringing students and clergy together was met with positive response from students, as well as adults.

St. Clare’s principal, Patti Ferguson-Chaney, said the children were as enthused as the ministers to be a part of the Sept. 28 We Are Family ecumenical prayer breakfast.

For the 15 ministers representing various Protestant religions, they brought insight as to the children’s backgrounds, she said.

"It’s an eye opener," said seventh-grade teacher Kathy Chateau about what she was learning about students and from the clergy.

Students’ reactions were simpler, centering around "fun" and "cool."

Ferguson-Chaney provided an adult perspective, "We have the same mission and that’s what’s best for the children."

"St. Clare is a melting pot. Here everybody comes together. We are here because we are concerned," said the Rev. David Fielder of the Joshua Temple.

"This is where the conversation begins," said Betty Grit, who represented the Worship Renewal Grants Program in Grand Rapids, which receives funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. "Work begins when churches grow beyond their boundaries," she said.

The group decided to get busy building unity in January with Week of Unity Prayer.

Volunteers for the school’s mentoring program is a second area addressed during the breakfast.

"The school has a weekly mentoring program for children to hold conversations. They just talk to another person who cares," Ferguson-Chaney said.

From Community Pilgrim MB Church, Veronica Wise agreed with the mentoring program saying "It’s important for students to have someone to talk to. They need our help."

"The children are looking for guidance. We have a responsibility to God and the children to tell the truth and be an example. With all the technology we dare not abdicate our responsibility," said Venice Douglas of the New Mount Olive Lutheran Church.

This article is used with permission of Grosse Pointe News.