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Pencils down and work well-done to Nicholas Watkins, student in the religious education program at St. Mark Parish, Belmont, and a winner in this year’s Knights of Columbus “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster contest. 

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Mercy every day at ICA
May 24th, 2016
By Tom Burke

Immaculate Conception Academy is a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to a spiritual role model in this Year of Mercy: The school was founded in 1888 by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose so who to look to first more than Order of Preachers, Dominicans founder St. Dominic de Guzman? “We use his charism of preaching to encourage our girls to use their actions and words to speak out and spread the teachings of Jesus,” Kim Riener, ICA campus minister told me via email.

The school’s foundress, Dominican sister, Mother Pia, said, in establishing the ICA mission, “Let us make as our model a fierce desire to serve the young, the poor and the vulnerable.”

A core-value at ICA? “Always to be the face of Jesus to those most in need,” Kim said.

Everyone at ICA has been busy in the Year of Mercy, Kim said. The jubilee has been integrated into all prayer services and school liturgies; students and teachers participated in an activity to ponder what Mercy means to each of them; morning school prayer for the Easter season focused on the corporal works of mercy, with a week dedicated to each work.

In addition, ICA has increased the number of volunteer opportunities available for students and staff and during the each of the Easter season’s 50 days Easter eggs with inspirational messages and quotes that students found about the school served as a constant reminder of what is important in life.

Other good works, Kim said, found students collecting for the San Francisco Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Cash for Kids and Lava Mae, all with an emphasis on supporting works of mercy.

Pope Francis has been an influence too as students have read articles about the pope’s declaration of the Year of Mercy; researched “women of mercy” in the Catholic Church; written letters to incarcerated men and women; created brochures advertising the works of mercy; and made Valentine’s Day and birthday cards for Meals on Wheels.

Frontline ministers to the poor including Lorraine Moriarty, executive director, St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Mateo County, came to talk to the girls and described how their work enacts the corporal works of mercy.

ICA religion teacher Eileen Boles spoke with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone about Mercy on a taped-live soon-to-be aired Immaculate Heart Radio project. Archbishop Cordileone asked for her recommendations and she shared the students’ ideas including creating safe spaces for the children of the Tenderloin; declaring a day of mercy for prisoners, calling attention to their isolation and joining forces with other leaders in the city to create a broader coalition of mercy

“Eileen was great as were all four callers,” said Jan Potts, assistant director of communication and who has a hand on the show. “Each had a question about mercy that came from a different direction.”

See page 8 of this issue for broadcast times and go to the archdiocesan website and Immaculate Heart Radio website for more information.

STEP BY STEP: Age seems to be getting its way with me: First I’m convinced I could use a large print edition of life, and on those senior ads that ask “Do you need this and that?” instead of answering “no,” I am now uttering “not yet.”

Email items and electronic pictures – jpegs at no less than 300 dpi to or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. My phone number is (415) 614-5634.

From May 26, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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