A group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky., visited students at St. Stephen Martyr School May 19.
The visit was a way for the soldiers to say thank you to the students, faculty, staff and parish for their support and prayers. The school has a special stewardship program, known as Operation Support Peace, that “aims to address the needs of the military and their families,” a news release from the school said.
During the visit, Father Harry Gelthaus, pastor of St. Stephen Martyr, accepted on behalf of the school and parish a certificate of appreciation and a battalion coin for excellence from Major Matthew Childers.
This school year, the St. Stephen Martyr community, including students in the parish’s religious education program, sent three care packages to the soldiers in the 2-320th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Campbell who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.
The parish also sent toys to the children of soldiers at Fort Campbell. In addition, the school gave the soldiers a stuffed bear — a Peace Buddy — as a momento “in the hopes of bringing some peace, comfort and smiles to the soldier’s faces,” the release said.
During their visit, the soldiers attended Mass with students and stopped by each classroom, where they answered students’ questions and demonstrated their gear. The soldiers stayed for lunch and played a game of duck-duck-goose with kindergarten and first-grade students.
St. Stephen Martyr adopted the military support program when Joyce Curry, a teaching assistant at St. Stephen, brought the idea from her previous school, St. Edward. St. Edward began Operation Support Peace in 2003.