Sebring third graders publish first book

Third graders at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring have authored their first book.

The book, which includes illustrations from the students and their own reflections on the Most Holy Eucharist, was a part of a class effort inspired by the 2022-2023 Diocesan Catholic Schools Devotional Project on the “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance.”

The devotional project theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which began in 2022 and continues through 2024.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the goal of this year’s devotional project was to bring “students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.”

Another element of the devotional project was to encourage students to get into the habit of visiting the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by going to Mass or attending adoration.

As part of that project, the students at each school, including St. Catherine, learned from trained eighth-grade Junior Catechists about the Most Holy Eucharist.

St. Catherine third-grade teacher Frances Shipman said, “In listening to my students’ beautiful answers during this class discussion (with the Junior Catechists) on the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Most Holy Eucharist, I thought that their understanding and answers needed to be shared in the form of a book.”

The illustrations were completed in their art class with teacher Mary Alexander. Then, Shipman partnered with Studentreasures Publishing for the publication.

“This project was a culmination of the foundation that parents and teachers, past and present, have set for our students on the greatest gift of the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” Shipman said.

Students shared what the Most Holy Eucharist means to them as they shared their deep understanding of the power of receiving the body of Christ.

Here is a sample:

“I like the Eucharist because it gives me eternal life. The Eucharist means Jesus’ life and Jesus’ body. Jesus is always with us. Eucharist is important because it leads us to holiness, courage and goodness. It is the bread of life and the greatest story of love, it represents Jesus’ body and Jesus’ blood.” – Ismael

“The Eucharist means healing and eternal life to me.” – Catalina

“We cannot see God, but he is always with us. It is the most holy thing I have ever seen, when I see the Eucharist. I feel the Lord’s presence. The Eucharist is extremely precious to me.” – Anastacia

“I believe the Eucharist is how Jesus gave us very special holy gifts… The Eucharist means so much to me. People gather to accept the sacrifice that Jesus and God did for me. It makes my heart feel so good that the holiness and love felt during Communion makes so many people feel togetherness and praise in joy. The Eucharist is Jesus’ way to say I will always be with you in body and spirit, and this makes me so happy.” – Asia

“The Eucharist is the hidden baby Jesus. To me the Eucharist is like a baby in a mom’s tummy, you can’t see the baby, but the baby is there. You can’t see Jesus in the Eucharist, but He is there.” – Pia

“The Eucharist means that Christ is with me. It also means that Jesus and God are present through the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Sophia

“When we receive the Eucharist, our hearts are overcome with knowing that Jesus loves us. This means we belong to God forever.” – Elsa

“When we receive the Eucharist, we become pure in heart.” James

“When we celebrate the Eucharist at Mass, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. The Eucharist makes me have courage.” – Jadelynn

“When I receive the Eucharist, I feel faith and affability and I can get along with everyone.” – Elena

“The Eucharist is how I can connect with Jesus Christ… The Eucharist is how you and me can be better people too. God wants us to be kind and loving to each other, so when we eat the Eucharist God can help our words and our actions to unite and be kinder.” Owen

St. Catherine Principal Dr. Christine Higgins said she is proud of the students for their reflections on the Holy Eucharist and their artwork, “We are grateful to Bishop Dewane and Father Belmonte, and our Pastor Father Jose Gonzalez for their leadership and inspiration of Faith to our students and teachers.”

Father Belmonte visited the third-grade students on May 9, 2023, and was presented a copy of the illustrated book.

“It is incredible how well these students grasp what they learned through this devotional project in the classroom about the Most Holy Eucharist and turned it into something beautiful,” Father Belmonte said. “The words and the artwork are outstanding.”

At the back of the book, Shipman wrote a note to the parents: “Thank you for entrusting your most precious treasures to me this school year. We have laughed, learned, lived, loved, studied, played, prayed, and even enriched our lives together this year. It was an honor to guide your children in writing a book on the Most Holy Eucharist and I want to thank you for raising Disciples of Christ.”