When Ashley Phillips-Teem teaches pre-K students about the Catholic faith, trips to the church sanctuary at St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Jacksonville are a must. The kids quietly explore, whether it’s the nativity with baby Jesus at Christmas or simply learning that when the red sanctuary candle is lit it means “Jesus is in church.”
“I feel like if they can see what’s going on they’ll pay attention,” said the 23-year-old newlywed, who has taught pre-K religious education for three years. “Just so they know they’re allowed to be here; it’s not just for adults.”
The Mount St. Mary Academy grad said she was nervous to teach pre-K students along with her grandmother but was put at ease during the first class when a 4-year-old said, “Jesus is like Batman, he saves everybody.”
“It’s just something that I never really heard the call ‘go,’ it’s just something my heart was drawn to,” she said. “I love being able to help the kids and see them grow.”
Throughout the years, she’s volunteered or filled in where needed as a lector, altar server, Eucharistic minister, secretary and at parish events, including Vacation Bible School. She has used her artistic skill to paint ornaments as Christmas presents for residents at a Searcy nursing home. She has prayed in front of the abortion clinic in Little Rock.
“I just feel really safe and I just love being at church,” she said. That caring, faith-filled nature was vital as a Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock student, studying to be a licensed practical nurse. She’ll study to become a registered nurse next year.
“It was nice knowing that because of my faith I was able to not only pray with them there, but maybe bring that offering to Church and pray for them,” she said.
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