By Arlene Edmonds

Special to The CS&T

Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Ignatius of Loyola Schools in West Philadelphia will make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day “a day on” instead of “a day off” on Monday, Jan. 19. They will be among the many schools in the Archdiocese that will be participating in the 14th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service.

School, church and community volunteers will be joined by those from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Agnes Irwin School, the Girl Scouts and Philadelphia Cares. The students, faculty and alumni of Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Ignatius of Loyola Schools will work together maintaining educational buildings and school properties. The school community welcomes anyone else who wants to share the volunteer spirit on that day.

“I think that it is important to teach the children what Dr. King’s message was about by encouraging them to participate in the King Day of Service,” said Sister Owen Patricia Bonner, S.S.J., principal of the schools. “Each year we get about 50 people from each school that come out and participate in this event. We get almost as many others who decide to come out and support the school in what we do. It is really encouraging.”

Those who volunteer on Monday will contribute their time in an array of school and community beautification projects. While some will engage in the more mundane chores of washing down shelves, wiping off walls and cleaning out closets, others will paint and plant. Many hands are needed to make the cafeteria spic-and-span by washing off the tables and chairs as well as mopping the floors.

A call went out for volunteers to sign up at a special parents’ meeting held last week. Executive board members signed up the initial volunteers. Students also took home informational flyers. More reminders are being circulated this week to get the largest turnout possible on Monday. Those who decide to volunteer will be asked to work from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Before and during the program we try to remind everyone of what Dr. King’s dream was about,” said Sister Owen. “That’s why on Monday we will begin the day with prayers to keep the dream alive.”

Our Mother of Sorrows School was founded in 1878, and St. Ignatius of Loyola School was founded in 1925. Three years ago the two schools created a joint administration and began sharing specialized facilities so that students from both schools would receive the best possible Catholic education. The schools’ mission is to foster the development of mind, body and soul in a Christ-centered environment. They strive to develop strong personal identities in each student and to help them prepare to meet the demands of a competitive world.

“Our goal in all we do is to just keep the dream alive,” added Rosemary Halm, vice principal of the schools. To register for Monday’s Day of Service call (215) 473-5828.

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at