Annual Halloween Luncheon Fun for all Ages
On October 31, 2018, St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School students in kindergarten, first and second grades brought spooky fun and warm smiles to residents at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly, operated by Little Sisters of the Poor, during their annual Halloween luncheon.
Over forty students—dressed as a Ghostbuster, Harry Potter, Rapunzel and Dracula, to name a few—took part in a parade of costumes through the dining hall, followed by a hearty hot dog meal graciously provided by the Home. After dessert, students gifted each resident with an early Thanksgiving gift: a finger-painted picture of a colorful autumn tree, autographed by the child.
The Halloween tradition, now in its fifth year, spreads cheer to the residents of St. Joseph’s Home, which provides long-term care for people who cannot afford the cost of private-pay nursing homes.
“It’s truly wonderful,” said Mother Margaret Charles, Mother Superior, who serves as facility administrator. “It brings a lot of love into the home, and the residents simply love it.”
A few first grade students paid a special visit to one resident in particular, Gertrude Kozlowski, who will turn 100 years old on November 3rd. After wishing her “Happy Birthday,” the students posed for a group photo with the soon to be centenarian.
“I love to see them and to hear them—it’s just so wonderful to hear their voices,” explained Kozlowski, who cared for herself until finally moving into the home at 98 years old. “Seeing their costumes really brings back memories.”
The students enjoyed the event as much as the residents. Second grader Madeline Jahnke said she has visited the home three Halloweens in a row.
“I like coming here—first of all, because they have really good food—and also because it reminds me of where my grandma lives,” explained Madeline, who donned a Cleopatra costume this year.
The event was the brainchild of Reverend Thomas (Tom) Rzepiela, Pastor of St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Church, who wanted to continue and expand the church and school’s relationship with St. Joseph’s and Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women who serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries.
“I am actually not sure who is more excited about the visit—the children or the elderly or the Little Sisters,” said Father Tom, who enjoys the interchange of young and old and shares in the Halloween spirit by dressing as the Great Pumpkin.
Teaching kindness is a virtue the school advocates, and the field trip to St. Joseph’s supports this educational and Catholic mission. First grade teacher Ms. Laura Klotz, who has taught at the school for over thirty years, noted the long term benefits of this early childhood experience.
“We hope it plants a little seed in their heart,” said Klotz. “And as they get older, they remember they can make a difference in this way.”
St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School, serving preschool through 8th grade, is located at 1141 E. Anderson Drive, Palatine. For more information, visit stvschool.org or call (847) 358-2110.
Little Sisters of the Poor/St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly is located at located 80 W. Northwest Highway, Palatine. For more information, visit littlesistersofthepoorpalatine.org or call (847) 358-5700.