Five saints filled the small front office at Holy Rosary School in Warrenton on a recent morning as they waited to see the principal.
"Oh, my heart is so warm," said Lori Racine as she came out of her office to meet St. Catherine of Bologna, St. Cecilia, St. Sebastian, St. Bernadette and St. Hubert. "Remember to talk naturally, like you're telling a story about yourself."
The saints — also known as eighth-graders Emma Busken, Evelyn Bruno, Jaiden Brice, Catherine Le and Jack Harnetz — were part of a saints museum, started this year as part of the school's Catholic Schools Week celebrations. Throughout the morning, students visited the cafeteria to hear stories of their lives, such as St. Catherine (Emma Busken), founder of the Poor Clares and patron of artists. St. Sebastian (Jaiden Brice), patron of athletes, shared how he was shot with arrows for defending the faith, and ultimately killed by Roman emperor Diocletian in AD 288.
First-grader Jonna Eggering was awe-struck by St. Catherine, who was born into an aristocratic family in Bologna and received training in writing, drawing and illuminations. "I liked the one with the paint brush," Jonna said. "She's my favorite because she's an artist and I want to be one when I grow up."
The saints museum was just one of several activities planned at Holy Rosary for Catholic Schools Week, celebrating the gift of faith-based education. In addition to fun-themed days, students also created a virtue family cross, and included examples of how they live out those virtues as a family.
With an enrollment of 127 students in preschool through eighth grade, Holy Rosary — located in Warren County and the westernmost school off I-70 in the archdiocese — is also one of the fastest growing schools in the archdiocese. A preschool for 4-year-olds launched this year brought a class of 18, said pastor Father John Mayo.
Roughly 20 percent of the school population is non-Catholic. "They're choosing Holy Rosary because of the Christian values, regardless of the denomination that we practice," Racine said. "They see the value in prayer every day. They see the value in teaching their children how to live virtuous lives. They appreciate our sense of family and community, our dedication to serving others."
While tuition continues to rise, Racine has made it a personal goal to help connect families with tuition assistance, such as Beyond Sunday and the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation. "I'll personally go in there and let families know, 'You are missing a document, can I help you?'" she said. "I don't want anyone to miss that blessed opportunity for having their children be part of a Catholic school community."