December 29, 2014

FORT MCMURRAY –0 Perhaps the best proclamation of the Gospel in a Catholic school is the love that permeates it. Perhaps, as Hans Urs von Balthasar claimed, only love is credible. And when that love has persisted for 30 years, then it has indeed permeated a school's culture.

Such is the case for Father Mercredi High School in Fort McMurray. For 30 years, some 200 lead students, collaborating with the rest of the school, have worked throughout the year to share Christmas joy with those in need.

They call their student-driven activity Santa's Anonymous, and they reach approximately 600 families.

The students serve Fort McMurray and surrounding communities. Each family is given a hamper of a full turkey Christmas dinner and food for several days, while each child in the family is given toys that match their age and gender.

The students receive active support from community organizations, such as the Kinettes and Kinsmen as well as from other schools. Many individuals and businesses contribute gifts, food and time, and more than $100,000 is raised to buy food.

Their project takes a year and countless volunteer hours to plan and carry out, and it provides great training in personal and organizational skills for student leaders. Every year, many former students, young and old, return to help during packing week and delivery day.

Santas Anonymous is faith inspired, focused on the Nativity, and it is tons of fun.


I have often wanted to invite the cynical and disillusioned to come and soak in the joyful love of these students serving others. One understands why Christ wanted the little ones, the young, to come to him – their love is pure.

On the final packing week and culminating delivery day, so vibrant and palpable is the conviviality you could slice and package the joy.

Joy – the sign of Christ's Spirit. That leads to a final comment: perhaps some would like these students to more verbally proclaim the Gospel. But St. Francis' words, "Proclaim the Gospel, if necessary, with words" come to mind. These students are doing just fine.