Educators exemplify faith in action

For the Diocese of Palm Beach, the heart of Catholic education is putting faith into practice, especially through service projects that center on community building and outreach. That’s why, as a larger part of the “Something Greater” marketing campaign launched in August, the Diocese of Palm Beach Office of Catholic Schools is collaborating with Cross Catholic Outreach to serve the hungry in developing countries through a special food packing event on Jan. 17.

“One of the cornerstones of our ‘Something Greater’ marketing campaign is the fact that we are challenging students to think beyond the classroom and to make a life-long impact on their community and Church,” said Jennifer Trefelner,  director of communications, marketing and social media for the Diocese of Palm Beach. “This event allows students and the community to witness that the diocese prioritizes these key values to not only invest in the future of establishing high academic standards, but revealing there’s more to life than personal success: there’s moral character, service to the community and ever-present faith.”

The food packing event will take place at three locations—Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce and St. Joan of Arc School in Boca Raton. More than 400 educators and administrators from the 17 diocesan Catholic schools will come together to assemble 120,000 packaged meals arranged through Cross Catholic Outreach. Students from each school are responsible for raising $30,000, about $5 per student, to fund the assembling of the food packs.

What makes this service project unique is the collaboration between various schools throughout the diocese. Tessie O’Dea, Cross Catholic Outreach relationship development manager, shared her enthusiasm for the unification of Catholic schools through this project. “This project is the first of its kind for Cross Catholic Outreach and the diocese. We haven’t had multiple entities working on one food packing event simultaneously before and it will be exciting to see different age groups and backgrounds come together to act as the living body of Christ in our community.”

Cross Catholic Outreach, which is a non-profit relief and development ministry, provides food, shelter, medical care, water, education, self-help programs, care for orphans and emergency relief to the poorest of the poor in local dioceses and in countries like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala and Nicaragua. O’Dea explained that nearly one billion people around the world go hungry every day, and Cross Catholic Outreach has dedicated time and energy into identifying what malnourished populations need in order to recover and survive.

The meals utilized by the organization are called Vitafood, which is a nutrient-rich food product scienti?cally designed to meet the dietary needs of chronically malnourished children and adults. The forti?ed rice, vegetable and soy products are designed to quickly restore the health of malnourished children and provide a reliable source of food to orphanages, schools and hungry families. Meals are then sealed in airtight packets to prolong shelf-life and maximize the number of meals shipped in each container.

“Although money is necessary to do what we do, it’s easy to write a check and feel like you helped solve a problem. I’m proud of our Catholic school teachers for being role models for our students and stepping up to take action and get involved. I strongly believe that Catholic youth can change the world, but we, as adults, need to guide them and be a testimony as leaders of faith,” said O’Dea.

Likewise, Trefelner recognized the significance of this project in creating well-rounded faith-filled students. “Events like this remind me, and all of us, that our Diocese of Palm Beach schools are truly something greater, not only in their mission, but also in their actions.”

To donate to the “Something Greater Food Packing Event,” please contact the Office of Catholic Schools at 561-775-9548. Stay up to date with this event by following the Office of Catholic Schools on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @DoPBCatholicSchools. Visit for more news and information on the Diocese of Palm Beach Catholic schools.