Pacelli volunteer helping others grow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Debbie Reetz sees Jesus in everything.

Candy bars, flowers, apples, even reservations at the airline ticket counter, Reetz sees life from a faith perspective.

As a volunteer teaching religion at Pacelli High School and Faith Formation classes on Wednesday nights, she gives that perspective to her students.

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Planting flowers at the high school this year, students would find out the next lesson when they saw what bloomed next.

Daffodils came up first, like trumpets of the angels proclaiming Jesus' birth. Red tulips were love everlasting and the blood of Jesus shed for forgiveness. Next came irises, purple, signifying royalty, the sword-shaped leaves recalling Hebrews 4 verse 12, "Indeed the word of God is living and effective; sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart."

Reetz said these lessons create a lasting impact on the students.

"Anything that is a visual for the kids … they never forget it," she said.

After using candy bars to teach about God, she said a student told her, "I can't go into a store and see a candy bar without thinking about what you said."

After losing her airline tickets once, Reetz was relieved to find that her reservation was still good. She told her class the story, with a twist.

"When you have reservations in life, be confident in Christ, he'll take care of you," she said.

Pacelli sophomore Jessie Snyder said the lessons are effective.

"It makes you think about things a lot more," she said. "How everything's connected to Jesus."

Sophomore Aaron Blake said Reetz's enthusiasm affects everyone.

"She's pretty energetic in the morning," he said. "I don't know how, but she's energetic."

Reetz uses these connections in her everyday life as well. She loves plants and gives gifts out of her garden to her friends. Bleeding Hearts are very symbolic flowers to her.

"Every year that they come up, I think of it: endless love, because they've got little hearts," she said.

But she does not come right out and say the gifts are religious. They are gifts of friendship but often months later can lead to faith discussions.

"That's like getting in the back door, because a lot of people get scared when you start talking about the faith thing," she said.

She said the connections help, but the meaning is what eventually becomes ingrained in students.

"The message of what God has to say is so powerful, and the kids respond to it," she said.

"If I'm kind of silly on the creative part, that's a gift from him."

Snyder said she has learned a lot, and Reetz has taught her what to do with it. That has been the most important lesson.

"Everybody can be a witness of their faith," she said. "No matter how little you know about Jesus, you can always share it with someone else."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at