COLUMBIA—Living in poverty doesn’t just affect a child’s physical quality of life, such as what they eat, what they wear and where they live. It can also have a profound effect on their brain and how they learn, influencing not only how they do in school but their chance for success later in life.
These stark realities were discussed at the annual Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist Bishops’ Dialogue on Oct. 13 at Our Lady of the Hills Church.
Tammy Pawloski, director of the Center for Excellence and professor of early childhood education at Francis Marion University, was the keynote speaker. She used statistics to show how poverty impacts the way students function in a classroom.
The information is crucial to implementing the public education initiative set forth in the LARCUM bishops’ pastoral letter, issued in April, which set out a commitment to support public education in the state.
“It’s a myth that poverty doesn’t matter in the classroom,” Pawloski said. “Some people say ‘teaching is teaching,’ but if you think that, talk to a teacher in a Title 1 school and listen to their struggles.” Title 1 schools have large numbers of students from low-income families.
Pawloski described how the brains of infants and young children are influenced by positive stimuli and factors such as touch, conversation, good nutrition, constant opportunities for learning and social interaction. Kids who come from families with more financial resources, for instance, often hear more words spoken each day and build bigger vocabularies from an early age than low-income children.
Living in poverty often means dealing with constant stress, and Pawloski illustrated how that can influence brain activity. Stress factors include everything from not having enough to eat to not being able to take part in school activities or other programs because of cost. Even something as simple as a teacher scolding a student for not bringing the right school supplies can exacerbate stress.
Intense stress can reduce your measured IQ, she said, adding that it affects physical and mental health, and the ability to pay attention.
She said that being born into or living in poverty does not mean children can’t improve and develop over time. That’s where the church community can step in, she said, to help kids access resources they might not have at home.
That help could take many forms, she said, by donating school supplies and money to help students participate in school activities or books and conversation.
“One thing we all can do is find a way to interact,” she said. “It can be as simple as somebody volunteering to go in and read with kids, help them grow that vocabulary.”
Faith communities can help relieve stress on poor families by helping parents with transportation or medical costs, or finding ways to teach students organizational and communication skills they might not have.
“The problem for many of these kids is not a lack of love, it’s a lack of resources,” she said. “If you change the child’s experience, you change the brain. Environment matters ... We have to be the touchstone for kids in poverty.”
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Sometimes big storms also bring big blessings.
That is a lesson Adorno Father Teodoro “Ted” Kalaw has learned in recent weeks.
He has been organizing fundraising efforts statewide to repair damage to his order’s Theology House in Lipa City, Philippines, which was hit by Typhoon Glenda in mid-July.
Father Kalaw, parochial vicar at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg, originally helped raise funds to build the house by holding concerts with two of his fellow Adorno priests. He was overjoyed when the home to five seminarians was completed in June.
Barely a month later, the storm hit and his spirits were crushed.
“I kind of felt destroyed, asking ‘What is going on, I don’t understand,” the priest said. “But I learned that God has a better plan, God will make it stronger if we build our faith in Him.”
The actual structure of the house was spared, but much of the surrounding soil was washed away, causing flooding and massive drainage problems which led to cracks in the building. The garage was destroyed and the one car the seminarians used was washed away.
There was no insurance available so the full cost to fix the property damage fell to the Adorno Fathers.
Father Kalaw said the repairs alone totaled more than $65,000, on top of the money that was still owed on the new building.
Despite his sadness, he and his fellow Adornos in South Carolina prayed and decided to do what they could. They received permission from Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone to take up second collections for the repair efforts. He said about $11,000 was raised at Jesus Our Risen Savior, and donations came to $15,000 at Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. A future collection is planned at St. Philip Benizi Church in Moncks Corner.
Individuals also donated privately.
After all the giving was done, more than $130,000 had been raised, enough to complete the repairs, pay off the mortgage debt on the house and purchase a new car for the seminarians.
Father Kalaw will travel to the Philippines soon to check on the work, which he said is about 95 percent complete.
“Because of the repairs, the Theology House is now stronger because the drainage has been fixed, so no matter what water comes, it won’t be affected,” Father Kalaw said. “The overwhelming support and response of the people was amazing. This experience has not only strengthened the structure, but strengthened our faith. No storm can destroy us. Maybe our property was damaged, but never our faith.”
GREER -- Even a Catholic bookstore isn’t safe from crime.
St. Benedict’s Catholic Store was the victim of a burglary sometime during the early morning hours of Oct. 16.
Someone broke into a back window of 900 West Poinsett St., headed straight for the office and stole containers of change and small donations for things like coffee, said Kipp McIntyre, who owns and runs the store along with his wife, Stephanie. The thieves left with no more than $40.
“They were so quick there was a line of nickels and dimes strewn around the back yard and into the neighboring yard,” McIntyre said. “It was mostly rolled coins, dimes and nickels.”
No religious objects were disturbed, damaged or taken. St. Benedict’s carries books and Bibles as well as statues, jewelry, rosaries and other items.
“There was nothing else out of place,” he said. “What we consider a miracle is there was a statue of the Blessed Mother wearing a lace mantilla not inches from the window that was smashed. There was glass all across the store and the statue was not touched.”
The incident took place less than a week after the store’s two-year anniversary. It opened on Oct. 10, 2012, a result of the couple’s mutual vision to help more people learn about the faith.
So far there are no suspects, but local police are still investigating.
Community outreach has been part of St. Benedict’s mission since it opened, and the McIntyres have been moved by an outpouring of support and sympathy. Local people stopped by to check on them and also helped with donations to repair the estimated $1,000 cost of fixing the window, which has already been replaced.
“The experience has helped us carry on the community conversation about what it means to be Catholic today,” Mr. McIntyre said. “We live the Gospel and we try everything we can to help folks see in us the tangible benefits of being a practicing Catholic.”
Many people who stop by are outraged that thieves would target a religious store, but the owners are urging everyone not to be angry, but instead to pray for those who committed the crime.
SOUTH CAROLINA—People who have joined the priesthood or entered religious life are typically encouraged to do so by at least three people, according to a study conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
“When three or more people encourage someone to consider a religious vocation, he or she is far more likely to take serious steps toward answering that call,” said Father Shawn McKnight, USCCB’s executive director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
So if you know someone who may have a calling to consecrated life, don’t hesitate to tell them and support that potential — you could be the difference in someone choosing to become a priest, brother or sister.
He said it is amazing how many students are never asked that question, even in Catholic schools.
“It’s surprising how many students there are, even in college, who haven’t heard that word — and they’re Catholic — and they haven’t heard of vocations,” Gaeta said.
So talk to your children, talk to your students, talk to the kid sitting next to you in church.
It is just one of many things people can do to support vocations.
It’s also important for youth to see priests and religious sisters as real people, so encourage your children to ask questions and talk to their pastor about his own childhood and how he followed God’s call, Gaeta said.
In addition to nurturing the discernment process, Gaeta said the diocese’s seminarians also need support.
There are currently 12 men engaged in the process. Read their profiles at www.CharlestonVocations.com and say a personal prayer for them.
“Praying for them is the No. 1 way to provide support,” Gaeta said.
He also encourages people to write letters to the seminarians, noting that their addresses can be found on the website.
Another suggestion from the USCCB advises each person to reflect on their own vocation and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ, and educate young people about the importance of silent prayer and taking the time to truly listen to God’s voice in our hearts.
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- October 31 2014 - November 15 2014 ‘Crafting by the Sea’
- November 01 2014 Workshop on bioethics and life
- November 01 2014 Bioethics and End-of-Life Issues
- November 01 2014 Rummage sale
- November 01 2014 Walk for Life
- November 03 2014 Talk on Magnolia Cemetery
- November 04 2014 Notre Dame Club golf outing