Called to be saints

Saintly Service

Extraordinary faculty and staff set Catholic schools apart

To recognize outstanding service — saintly service — to everyone in Catholic school communities, the Catholic Schools Center for Excellence (CSCOE) rolled out Saintly Service, a program encouraging school faculty and staff to exemplify charisms of seven great saints:

“I believe that customer service is central to our mission as Christ-centered schools,” said Brian Sinchak, president of Lakewood Catholic Academy, an early childcare center and elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio. “I like to claim that the saints knew best practices far before business schools and Wall Street learned them.”

Halo Award celebrates service

Each month, CSCOE sends schools the story behind a saint, Saintly Service passports and stickers to help schools keep track of school community members modeling the spiritual gifts of that saint.

Schools can nominate community members for a Halo Award using examples of when the person exemplified the saint’s charism. CSCOE also presents one Halo Award each month from all school nominations.

Vickie Zelinka, food service coordinator at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Columbia Heights, received the first Saintly Service Halo Award of the 2020-21 school year for exemplifying St. Benedict’s incredible hospitality.

“Vickie speaks her love for all of us through food,” said Jane Bona, Immaculate Conception principal. “She’s resourceful, finding something in the freezer to make soup for the staff or sending an extra casserole home with a young staff member. Vickie is one of those people who gives a lot.”

Saints in training

Immaculate Conception also acknowledges a student each month — “a saint in training.” They started by honoring their fifth-grade class. 

“Most of those class members have been together since kindergarten, and it was noted how welcoming they were to three new students this year, letting them know that we’re a community that cares for them,” Bona said.

Saintly Service award winners at Immaculate Conception are recognized at an all-school Mass, and they receive a certificate and a small gift. 

CSCOE also recognizes each month’s overall Halo Award winner with an in-person presentation at their school. View the latest award presentations on CSCOE’s Facebook page.

By Debbie Musser

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Catholic Schools Center of Excellence