Second graders imagine what nuns do all day

When Abby Morales asked a group of second graders what nuns do, she received some profound responses.

The conversation was part of an activity between the second-grade students and their sixth-grade “buddies” at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Monticello, Iowa. It provided an interactive way for the 27-year-old teacher to introduce National Catholic Sisters Week to her youngsters.

Abby, a native of Vinton, Iowa, is enrolled in St. Kate’s Masters of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction program and due to complete her degree in 2016. She applies many insights from the program to her full-time position as a sixth-grade teacher at Sacred Heart.

One day when her students partnered with the second graders, she launched a discussion about Catholic sisters. She began by picking their brains.

“What do you think Catholic sisters do?” Abby asked.

She directed the sixth graders to record their answers, writing them in colorful markers on white posters. What followed was a wide range of responses – made more poignant by the simple wording and youthful handwriting.

What do sisters do?

“Pray.” “Do good things.” “Follow the 10 Commandments.” “Clean.” “Have to do jobs.” “Help the sick.” “Worship God.” “Thank God.” “Serve God.” “Listen.” “Sing.” “Love one another.”

Abby said she was proud to participate in National Catholic Sisters Week, which is intended to generate conversations about women religious – just like the one her students had. She advanced their discussion by sharing personal stories, drawing from her time at St. Kate’s and her undergraduate years, including a sister who served as her spiritual director.  

“I think it is absolutely necessary to have a week dedicated to raising awareness,” Abby said. “I was excited to organize this event.” She plans to conduct a similar one next year and is interested in participating in other programs through NCSW or SisterStory.

Abby is aware of a Sacred Heart fourth grader who is planning to become a Catholic sister. Hopefully more students will open their hearts to religious life as a result of National Catholic Sisters Week.

Participating in a national initiative housed right at St. Kate’s felt like a full-circle moment, Abby said. “It was neat to combine my different worlds.” 

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.