Sacred Heart Church

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish

A group of missionaries from Sacred Heart Parish and others from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and beyond, visited our sister parish, St. Robert Bellarmine in Chapelton, Jamaica. The group of 15 stayed at the homes of two parishioners and at the rectory from June 13-22, 2011. The parishioners from our parish were: Erin Brennan, Jim Brennan, Cathy Keefe, Ray Keefe and Shannon Wilbur from Sacred Heart Parish. The group also included people from five other parishes: Katelyn Bodenshatz from St. John, Summerhill, Mary Conway from St. Anne, Pittsburgh, Ashley Keefe from Holy Spirit, Palmyra, Sister Patti Rossi from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Mission Office, Kristie and Linda Runk from St. Mary, Altoona and Belinda, Chuck, Katie and Rachel Williams from Immaculate Conception, Lock Haven.

Despite being strangers at the beginning of the trip, the group quickly became friends and pitched in to do whatever job was necessary. There were had many talents within the group and working at the school allowed these individuals to share this gift. Some of the young adults coordinated games during Physical Education class for students in Kindergarten to grade six. One of the afternoons while Sister Patti in-serviced the classroom teachers, members of the group facilitated crafts and activities that were enjoyed by all of the students (close to 100). Each day during the children’s lunch time, games were played and the missionaries interacted with this loving group of children.

The physical labor came in the form of painting the interior of the church, building a back drop on the altar, repairing kneelers and other general repairs to the school and church. Thanks to donations from the Altoona Johnstown Diocese, our sister parish received a new Cross, Stations of the Cross, a Holy water font, Baptismal font and new Ambo. Many hours and days were spent scraping, painting and cleaning the church to prepare for the 6th grade Graduation Ceremony. Thirteen 6th graders and 4 kindergarten students participated in the graduation ceremony.

A few storage rooms were cleaned out to create a teacher supply room, which was stocked with supplies provided by members of the group and the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. Also created was a school library and reading room. The books were donated by students in the various Catholic schools within the Diocese during the Lenten season. Some general maintenance was completed around the school yard, rectory and parish. A book stock room was organized, new swings were made for the playground and a mini bridge was built to cross into the school yard.

The missionaries had many “fun” days and enjoyed the company and culture of the parishioners from St. Robert Bellarmine. They were introduced to the “river” (creek in our country) to cool off after our hot working days. The Jamaican friends were introduced to a cookout and taught how to cook hot dogs on sticks and make smores. They also had the opportunity to visit some of the local shops and businesses and spent a day at the beach in Ocho Rios

For more information on the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, please click here.



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