A typical summer for a high school student might include multiple trips to the beach, the movies, county fair, Disneyland or maybe even a family vacation abroad. But Mater Dei students are not typical high school students. This summer many Monarchs have given their time and energy to the call of service. We are proud to have these young people doing God’s work in communities and areas very much in need of their energy and talent.
Notre Dame Vision
In June, we were privileged to accompany 31 Mater Dei students to Notre Dame Vision, a week-long spiritual leadership experience held at the University of Notre Dame where 300 high school students from across the country grow in a deepening of their Catholic faith through emersion in a retreat-like atmosphere, daily Mass, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This program is presently under the direction of one of our Mater Dei graduates, Leonard De Lorenzo ’99 and this is our 10th year attending.
Students from Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College served as mentors to the high school students. This process engages young people in a unique way to live the question: “How will my gifts change the world?”
What an incredible opportunity it has been for us to be able to participate in this life-changing journey for our Mater Dei students for the last 10 years!
Junior Monarch Academy
The Junior Monarch Academy began with the dream of our Principal, Frances Clare, 11 years ago. The program is a 5-week opportunity for at-risk fifth graders from our neighbor schools here in Santa Ana to gain extra help in math, reading and writing.
In addition to the academic growth the Junior Monarchs experienced in the classroom, they were also spiritually enriched through their participation in Masses held in the Mater Dei Chapel, community outreach activities, and “fun Fridays.”
We presented each Junior Monarch with a special cross to serve as a remembrance of their weeks here at Mater Dei during one of our Masses and also participated in a Lion Share Day. As a Junior Monarch community, we made and delivered 500 lunches to the homeless and hungry in Santa Ana through our Lion Share Program.
We were incredibly blessed to have the commitment and leadership of 20 Mater Dei students and two Mater Dei alumni, Kelly Meyer ’08 and Martin Lopez ’09 (also a Junior Monarch alumni), who served as mentors and assistants to our Junior Monarch students and their teachers.
Gearing Up for the 2011-12 School Year
Over the summer, our wonderful Campus Ministry Team has working diligently to prepare for the 2011-12 school year. Mrs. Kendra Hart, Director of Retreats, worked to prepare the Freshman Day of Welcome, where we officially welcomed the Class of 2015 to the Mater Dei community on Wednesday, August 17. She is now preparing for the 2011-12 school year’s retreat program. Students are encouraged to take advantage of our incredible retreat program.
Mrs. Jenny Hornbuckle ‘03 has been working with the newly installed Campus Ministry Commissioners to get them ready and excited for the Masses, retreats, daily prayers, and outreach opportunities we’ll have this coming year.
Mrs. Stephanie Hopkins has guided our young people to numerous opportunities for service throughout Orange County and beyond. It has been gratifying to listen to the positive experiences our students have had through numerous summer camps including parish Bible camps, KidWorks, Urban Compass, Re-Creation and Special Camp for Special Kids.
We as a Mater Dei community are so fortunate to be “sacramentally enriched” with the presence of many Diocesan priests who enable Mater Dei High School to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent and Lent and serve as celebrants at our weekly Masses (held at lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the Chapel) and our all-school Masses (held throughout the year in the Meruelo Athletic Center). Many of these Diocesan priests are Mater Dei alumni.
Our first Mass of the school year took place on Friday, September 2. Monsignor Michael McKiernan of Christ Our Savoir Cathedral Parish served as our celebrant. And, our own Steve Viau, Director of Music Ministry, worked diligently with the choir and band programs to prepare the music for our first all school Mass.
With this new school year upon us, we ask for God’s continued blessing for the entire Mater Dei family. We pray for a smooth transition into high school for our new freshmen and an easy transition to college for our recent graduates from the Class of 2011.
In Mater Dei,
Helen Steves, Director of Campus Ministry