HELENA — This week is the 50th National Catholic Schools Week, and to celebrate, the St. Andrew Catholic School made prayer bouquets to present to first responders and public servants.
"I think it's important sometimes when you're in a private school to make sure that the community knows that we're very civically minded and that our young people's minds and hearts are also invested in the local Helena community," said Head of St. Andrew School, Doug Tooke.
This is the first year that St. Andrew Catholic has held a prayer bouquet presentation, and the students presenting the faux flowers are all children of first responders.
The bouquets are made from paper by kindergarten through fifth-grade students, who spent this week writing prayers and thanks in each bud and blossom.
Tooke said, "They took very intentional time to ask for help with the wording and the language of what they wanted to pray for, but also to take time to be quiet and intentional about celebrating the specific names of the specific responders that they wanted to know they were appreciated."
Six public servants received the bouquets before the school had its all-school mass, including the Fire Chief of Wolf Creek and Craig and a Sergeant from Montana Highway Patrol.
"It's showing community support and also teaching the young children here that first responders are the good guys," said Brent Colbert, the Undersheriff of Lewis and Clark County.
The St. Andrew Catholic School is not formally affiliated with the Helena Catholic Diocese. However, school leaders say they operate under the blessing of Bishop Austin Vetter.
"We are acknowledged by Bishop Vetter as being in right teaching with the Catholic Church," said Tooke.
The school hopes to make the prayer bouquet presentation an annual tradition.