And that was just in 80 minutes on a Friday in March.
That spirit extends to every grade, but it is particularly evident in the two fourth grade classes, headed by Annette Moore and Tina Riesett, which are experienced at both spiritual works, such as comforting the afflicted, and corporal works, such as feeding the hungry.
Raised in St. Peter Parish in Hancock, Riesett is in her 38th year of teaching in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and her 28th at St. Ursula School. She lives “eight doors down” and walks to school every day, so it’s no coincidence that the fourth-graders’ service during the school year begins on foot.
Every National Day of Service and Remembrance, which commemorates the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attack, her students and Moore’s head a mile west on Putty Hill Avenue, packing cookies and banners, to the Baltimore County Fire Department’s Parkville station.
“We started that four years ago, as a way to show our appreciation,” Riesett said. “Now, we get the grand tour.”
Every fall, the fourth-graders create laminated guardian angel prayer cards, usually for family members in uniform. Last Christmas, those cards went to Rita’s Supper Table, which every Monday serves dinner to 200-300 guests at St. Rita in Dundalk.
The aforementioned Easter-themed projects were all in support of the soup kitchen. While its annual Easter dinner is slated for March 28, Easter Monday, all of those Easter eggs were distributed March 21, not just to clear refrigerator space, but to tide people over.
Why is a parish school in Parkville helping an outreach 12 miles south on the Baltimore Beltway?
Moore is in her 19th year as a full-time teacher at St. Ursula School, but her spirit of service can be traced to St. Rita Parish, where she was raised and remains a parishioner.
“Her mother used to bake us brownies every week,” said Mary Catherine Haynes, who directs Rita’s Supper Table, which was founded by her parents. “She (Moore) is a God-centered person, willing to do anything, including inspiring others to help out.”
While Rita’s Supper Table is supported by four other east-side parishes and other schools, including St. Joseph School in Fullerton and St. Clement Mary Hofbauer School in Rosedale, its Easter celebration would not be the same without St. Ursula School.
With 113 third- and fourth-graders seated in the cafeteria and assisted by several parent volunteers the afternoon of March 18, Moore briefed them on the day’s activities and tested their knowledge of Rita’s Supper’s Table.
“What day do they serve?” Monday.
“Do you have to pay?” No.
“What kind of food do the guests take when they leave?” Soup, cereal.
“You’re making placemats for their Easter party. You’re creating four wrappers, around a spoon, a knife and a fork. What should you write?” Rejoice. Love. Alleluia. He is risen.
“It (Rita’s Supper Table) was started by a firefighter and his wife,” Moore explained to the children. “At the end of the month, when people ran out of money, they came to the firehouse looking for food. Miss Cass (Haynes), their daughter, is still doing it. I happen to be a friend of Miss Cass.”
Riesett is amazed at the donations organized for the Dundalk outreach by a parish school in Parkville.
“At Christmas we prepare gift bags, and tell the kids, this is the only gift many people are going to get,” she said. “We fill them with toiletries and fun snacks. Parents go on vacation, and bring in the hotel soaps and shampoos. I am amazed; some donate cash.”
Deborah Glinowiecki, the St. Ursula School principal, is a veteran administrator but new to the spirit in seen in Catholic schools.
“At this holiest of times,” she said, “it is truly a blessing to see our students and teachers modeling Jesus through their acts of creating gifts for those less fortunate.”
Watch a video about the St. Ursula outreach here.