By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
BURLINGTON — Sidewalk chalk hearts, crosses and encouraging messages greeted religious education students and catechists as they walked into Notre Dame Catholic School Sept. 20 for their first catechesis class of the year.
Notre Dame sophomores decorated the sidewalks during their religion class earlier that day. It was their way of participating in the diocese’s yearlong focus on welcoming and belonging, said Tammy Bellrichard, director of religious education for Divine Mercy Parish of Burlington/West Burlington.
The sophomores wrote “Best Night of the Week” — Bellrichard’s slogan for Wednesday night religious ed — in colorful block letters. Student Mary Joyce drew the K. “It was really fun and it felt good to know that people would see that when they came in.”
The creative juices began to flow when Bellrichard noticed packages of sidewalk chalk in her office. “A previous youth minister used to do an event called Chalk the Church,” she explained. The chalk also reminded Bellrichard of her parents’ tradition of decorating the sidewalk in front of their home before family get-togethers. She spoke with Notre Dame religion teacher Maria Roth, who agreed to allow students to work on the project during class time.
Notre Dame students receive their religious education and sacramental prep through the school. Public and homeschool students from Divine Mercy Parish attend religious education classes Wednesday evenings. Many Notre Dame students were unaware that religious education takes place in the school building, Bellrichard said. The chalk project was a way for sophomores, many of whom are recent confirmands, to show they care.
The chalk etchings also drew attention to the new religious education program entrance. Previously, classes took place throughout the school with multiple points of entry. This year, the classrooms are located in the high school wing, closer to the chapel, and everyone enters through the same set of doors.
Sophomore Isaac DuCharme said he appreciated the opportunity to welcome religious education students. “It made me feel like I was making the younger kids more comfortable moving to a new location.”
“We got lots of great comments from religious education students about how nice it was to come in,” Bellrichard said. It was an example of “kids helping other kids.”