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By Julia Moro

St. Francis Prep will be offering their students opportunities this summer that focus on broadening their view of the world around them and how they can contribute to those in need.

The summer programs being offered by the Fresh Meadows school — located at 6100 Francis Lewis Blvd. — are designed to give students a chance to parallel the way St. Francis lived his altruistic life.

The first program, Notre Dame Vision, is offered at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Students from the Queens Prep school who attend will be put through workshops for five days to give them a chance to come back and be focused and mindful to be able to help people in need. The program is led by Notre Dame students who have taken a special theology course to prepare for working with small groups.

“The students find themselves in a vibrant and welcoming community that allows them to experience authentic prayer, good conversations with an opportunity to explore real life issues,” St. Francis Prep Campus Minister for Liturgy and Worship George Anne Kotowicz said. “The students return from this program more clearly seeing their own gifts and talents and with a willingness and share those gifts and talents to help change the world for the better.”

The Franciscan Immersion Experience is another program that the school offers. This year Prep students will travel to Peru to volunteer at the Hogar San Francisco de Asis, the home of St. Francis.

This facility is run by Dr. Tony Lazzara, a pediatrician who is originally from Florida. Lazzara sold his practice and moved to Peru to focus on helping kids with very tragic circumstances such as birth defects and brain injuries.

“Our students learn by doing. Not only are they being of service to the kids in Peru, but they will also grow in confidence, maturity and faith,” said Dr. Christian Sullivan, the director of campus ministry. “When students move away from academics and do hands-on child care like accompanying children to a hospital, they learn a lot about the world but they also learn a lot about themselves.”

St. Francis Prep will also be sending four members of its community to St. Francis Secondary School in Lare, Kenya, as part of an exchange program that the twin schools hope will be annual and mutually beneficial.

Robert Johnston, director of publicity and public relations at St. Francis Prep, said the schools “have basic needs out there such as desks and chairs, whereas we’re worrying about new construction in our building, so it’s really an eye opener.”

Prep ran fund-raising drives in the past to assist the secondary school in Africa, allowing them to buy desks and chairs and even a school van.

These opportunities given to students of St. Francis Prep this summer show that the school has more to offer than just reading, writing and arithmetic.

“We’re really teaching the whole child to be sensitive to what’s in the outside world. First, to be grateful for what they have and, second, to maybe recognize that other people aren’t so lucky to find ways to go out into the world and help people even if it’s in small ways,” Johnston said.

Reach reporter Julia Moro by e-mail at jmoro@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4574.

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