From left, Sister Regina Callahan, Sister Marge Scarpone, alumna Amy Skalecki and Sister Joanmarie McDonnell. 2019 Facebook photo
From left, Sister Regina Callahan, Sister Marge Scarpone, alumna Amy Skalecki and Sister Joanmarie McDonnell. 2019 Facebook photo
Showcasing the impact of Catholic schools’ service at Red Bank Catholic High School meant bringing to the forefront the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas who started it all. And Catholic Schools Week was the perfect time to do it.

For its schoolwide Mass Jan. 29, RBC highlighted the efforts of retired Sister Joanmarie “JM” McDonnell and Sister Regina Callahan, a member of the school’s religion and guidance departments.

Wearing their club shirts, and scarves proclaiming “Catholic Schools Are a Choice,” representatives

of the more than 40 RBC service groups carried their club banners proudly past the students prior to Mass.

Sisters residing in St. James Convent of the nearby St. James Parish – many of whom taught in St. James Grammar School and RBC years ago – were invited to join the student body, as members of the campus ministry recognized the sisters for instilling service and the Mercy charism in RBC.

About 90 percent of the RBC student  body is involved in offering service, either through the school or independently, said Deborah Flego, assistant campus minister and religion teacher. “Many choose to continue their service activities at the colleges they attend,” she noted. “For Caseys, service isn’t a requirement – it is a way of life!”

When Sister Regina arrived at RBC in the 1980s, there were 1,199 students and no clubs that provided service.

“The student council, with a goal of providing one family in need with a full meal, planned to collect one dollar from each student,” explained Sister Marge Scarpone, current campus ministry team leader. “Upon hearing this, Sister Regina, along with four students, began the LIFE Club, which stood for Living In Faith Effectively.”

Since then, the LIFE Club has been providing services to those in need, ultimately spurring enough donations to feed full meals to more than 400 families with food to spare.

The service continues, despite it not being a graduation requirement at the school.

Sister Joanmarie wanted to ensure the LIFE Club mission would continue to be in good hands after she left RBC. To that end, the 40-member campus ministry team, led by Sister Marge, took on the formal mission statement to “L.I.V.E. In Faith Effectively.”

This inspired other RBC clubs to commit to offering service as well.