O’Fallon St. Clare Catholic School students are on a mission to spread faith, love and peace within the community.
In participation with next week’s national Catholic Schools Week, St. Clare Catholic School students in O’Fallon painted rocks with inspirational messages to disperse around the metro-east.
The project is also a special way for students to celebrate the school’s 150th anniversary with the community.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our school to reach out to those members of the community who we might not have the opportunity to interact with,” Diane Overmann, director of faith formation for the school, said.
Students from preschool through eighth grade painted 150 rocks with symbols of their faith, words of scripture and other messages of love, joy and encouragement to share with others.
The popular, multifaceted activity starts with painting rocks, then hiding them, and, last but not least, waiting for someone to find them and post a photograph on social media, like Facebook, so the creator can see where, or with whom, the rock ended up.
“We developed this project in honor of the 150th anniversary of St. Clare School and in the hopes of spreading our faith and love to our surrounding communities,” said Clarice McKay, the school’s principal.
There are more than 150 students in the school, so a buddy system was put in place to pair younger students with the older ones for the project, so all could participate.
“I just think it’s really good for O’Fallon. It’s good, because our school is 150, and it’s cool,” said second-grader Elsa Byram, 8.
During Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 28-Feb. 3, St. Clare School families will place the painted rocks throughout O’Fallon and Shiloh and other areas of the metro-east for people to discover.
“We want to spread God’s love to people who find the rocks. We want them to know that God loves them and that we are praying for them,” McKay said.
In addition to the students praying while painting, families placing the rocks will pray for the finder of the rock.
“Our families will pray that the receiver, or finder, of the rock will be impacted to know and love God and will use this object in a way that will grow God’s family,” McKay said.
The hope is “when people find them as a surprise, their day will be lifted … maybe thinking about how their faith can give them strength and give them the courage to face whatever challenges they have in their life,” McKay said.
“The simple act of picking up a rock with a faith-driven message could deeply affect the receiver,” Overmann said.
People who find a painted rock may keep it or place it in a new spot for someone else to find.
“I like it because it’s fun, and I like painting rocks, and other people can find them and send them to new places,” said second-grader Camden Buck, 7.
Camden’s seventh-grade mentor during the project, Nick Jansen, 13, said he really likes what the project represents.
“It is very good for the community, and it will help us bond together,” Jansen said with an ear-to-ear smile.
If you or someone you know finds a rock from St. Clare, the school asks that you post a photo and what the message means to you on the school’s Facebook, @saintclareknights.
In addition, St. Clare Catholic School and its Good Shepherd Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten program will host an open house from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28 to kick off Catholic Schools Week. Through the week, the school will feature a number of special activities for students, teachers, parents, alumni, staff and parishes. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”