St. Patrick Catholic School

122 West Street, Portland, MI   (517) 647-7551

November 25, 2018   From the St. Pat's Protect Life advisor  

"I want my daughter to be just like them." 

These were the words of a lady I had just met at the community dinner sponsored by the Portland St. Patrick High School students.  She volunteered to work the event.

She and her husband and daughter are new to our school family this year.  In the quote above, she was referring to our amazing high school students as they served food, delivered drinks or just sat and talked to some of the people enjoying this meal.

Our students designed this event to provide a good meal for those in need or those just looking for companionship.  The hours they put into planning and preparation paid off in absolute success.

Our group wishes to thank Family Farm and Home for donating very warm hats and socks that were given away at our Protect Life MI-St. Patrick High School chapter table.  

We thank John Bonter and Meijer for donating the turkeys and pulled pork along with a full pallet of water.  We also thank the other people who donated food, time and resources.  We thank Mark Simon for his expertise and enthusiasm in guiding our students in the process of putting together a large meal.

The students who have been with us for the last year have heard me say the words in the following paragraph several times.  They will probably hear it several more times, because every time they put together a successful project they just raise the bar a little bit higher.  They shake off disappointment and move forward with even more determination and commitment.

Over the years, I have been on quite a few boards, commissions, associations and just plain old work details.  All had excellent people.  But without question our high school students are the finest collective group I have ever been associated with and are the best example of what is great about our school.

Yesterday we also saw the next group of future leaders in action.  Our school family came out in force to support this event.  We had students from the lower elementary all the way through the Junior High, along with their parents showing up to do the work.

I was in the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon as some of our incredible student leaders showed up after school to begin working on this dinner.  Some had to slip out to also work the blood drive, then come back and work in the kitchen.

Some went over to Mass on Tuesday evening and came back to work.  And then there they were, on Wednesday morning, completing the prep work.  They were also there for the actual event and were still there cleaning up the cafeteria, along with some dedicated parents, grandparents and parish members.

"I want my daughter to be just like them."  I can understand why she would want that.  

Thank you to all who helped make this event a success.

Ralph Willemin, Protect Life MI-Portland St. Patrick High School advisor

Junior Summer Russman attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 19, 2018, with 30 other St. Patrick High School students. She wrote the following article for Principal Randy Hodge's blog for the week of January 28th.

The March for Life has always inspired me. Every year, I have always wanted to be a part of it, but have had other obligations. This year, when I heard that all sports and school activities were cleared, I jumped at the opportunity to go. I expected the March to be a great experience, but I never expected that it would have such a profound impact on my life. It is difficult to put into words as to how great my experience was.

Our trip began on Thursday with an early morning on the road. After a long bus ride, filled with singing, movies, and stories, we arrived in Washington D.C. After freshening up, we attended a rally at George Mason University. It was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. At the rally, we listened to very powerful speakers, sang of God’s glory, and experienced our Lord in adoration. These things set the mood for the morning to come.

We began the next day by sightseeing. We had the privilege to visit some of the most famous monuments in the United States. About an hour before the March, we attended another rally. This rally was especially inspiring because it consisted of many testimonies from mothers who had experienced the effects of abortion first hand. There were also many politicians who showed up to offer their support for the pro-life movement. It was comforting to know that there are many elected officials working for the rights of the unborn.

When the March began, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people there. It was beautiful to see so many people give up their time for a cause that they believe so strongly in. Just being with all those people gave me hope for the future. The theme for the March this year was, “Love Saves Lives.” While I was marching, I began to meditate on the ways that this phrase embodies the pro-life movement. I came to the conclusion that the only way that we can win the battle against abortion, is through love. The March for Life is rooted in love. We do not march with hateful hearts, but march with loving hearts, full of hope for the future.

When the March was over, we spent some time at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We attended Mass, and offered up our prayers for the unborn. The next day, it was time for us to return home. Although I was not ready to leave Washington D.C., I was excited to come home and share all that I had experienced with others. I was deeply moved and ready to expand the pro-life movement. I am eternally grateful for the experience and am looking forward to going again next year.

2018 March for Life

January 21, 2018

There were hundreds of thousands of people at the March for Life, and who did our group run into?  Christen Pollo!  Christen is the Executive Director of Students for Life of Michigan and has been instrumental in helping our chapter get started.  She took a photo with the St. Pat's group.

January 22, 2018

St. Patrick Students for Life in grades 7-12 held a Day of Solidarity on January 22, 2018.  They wore tape over their mouths or wrists to symbolize the lost voices caused by abortion.They also handed out an information sheet to the other students.

January 22, 2018

There are people who talk about doing things.  And there are people who go ahead and do them.  This past weekend we saw a group of our amazing high school students do something. 

This year a bus left our own school heading for the March for Life.  This is a first around here.  Our Students for Life chapter which is under the direction of the Student Ambassador Team worked diligently to plow through the long list of details involved with pulling off this incredible feat.

And they succeeded.  As I rode the bus watching this unfold, I wasn't all that surprised.  I've been around this group for months now.  They are fearless and determined.  They understand something many people haven't fully grasped.

Too often people don't try big things because they are afraid of failing or because it is just too hard.  If there is an easier way, it is often the preferred method. Our Students for Life chapter recognizes an important fact.  Failure is not the opposite of success.  Apathy, indifference, and often time a lack of will are actually the opposite of success.  Dictionaries may not agree, but life experiences are better resources.  Failure is a stepping stone to success.

I've watched this team move forward with a clear plan since last May.  Sometimes driven by the sheer force of will of the team leaders, but all the while moving forward with the plan.  As more and more talented members join the team, bigger successes are possible. 

This past weekend was an example.  Our Students for Life chapter has such depth now that they can do great things that will build upon past successes and lead to many more.  Every student on that bus was included in the group described by our bus driver as "The finest group of young women and men I have ever driven in my 14 years on this job."  We have already arranged for Herb to be our lead driver next year.

We are also already working on plans for next year.  Experience is a great teacher.  We'll make some adjustments.  We'll correct some things and we will make it even better next year.

Congratulations and many thanks to this inspiring group of students.

Ralph Willemin

Student Ambassador Team Advisor

Update on Brigid Valentine

Here is a follow up from Veronica White, team leader of the Students for Life chapter at Portland St. Patrick High School to our combined SFL and Student Ambassador Teams.

"Brigid was born early yesterday morning at 2:14 AM. She weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 18 inches long. She was laid on her mother's chest, and when they woke up around 5:30, they looked for a heartbeat and found none. Please keep this family in your prayers, as they prepare to say a final goodbye to their baby girl on Tuesday." 

Brigid Valentine

John and Ariana are parents of a 2-year-old daughter, Winnifred (Winnie), and are awaiting the birth of their second daughter.  Early in the pregnancy, they learned that their baby has anencephaly, a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.  The baby will survive only a short while after her birth.

The parents arranged for additional sonograms and they gathered grandparents and Winnie to be with them, so that they could all meet Brigid Valentine and get to know her before her birth.  They were there to celebrate her life.  Members of the St. Patrick Students for Life chapter helped with the celebration. 

Read entire story here.

Pictures with Brigid's family


My Brother John

Judith Pohl is a member of St. Patrick Students for Life.  She shares a story about a very special person in her life, her brother John.

Read entire story here. 

Students for Life bring guest speaker to Portland St. Pat’s

Students at St. Patrick Catholic School in Portland were inspired to defend the rights of society's most vulnerable members after hearing a talk by Christen Pollo, executive director of Students for Life of Michigan. The school’s new Students for Life chapter hosted Pollo on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. She spoke to secondary students following the All Saints Day Mass.

Pollo began her talk by sharing her story, including how her mother was single when pregnant with Christen. Although some people suggested an abortion to Christen’s mother, she gave Christen the gift of life. Years later as a sophomore, Christen founded a Right to Life group in her high school and dedicated her life to championing the pro-life cause.

In her talk, Pollo also offered persuasive examples of the human dignity of unborn children, pointing out that from conception they are alive and human, no matter their size or stage of development. She also highlighted the importance of affirming the dignity of mothers experiencing crisis pregnancies and lovingly supporting the gift of life for their babies.

Junior high students from SS. Peter & Paul in Ionia also attended Pollo’s talk.

(Article by Greg Ghering, Marketing Communications Coordinator for Catholic Schools, Diocese of Grand Rapids.  Photos from the event can be found in the Photo Gallery and on the Diocese of Grand Rapids website.)

The Students for Life chapter at St. Patrick High School invites all courageous people to join our efforts.   Students for Life is open to all students in grades 7-12.  You do not have to attend St. Patrick School to join our group.

If you would like information about St. Patrick Students for Life, please contact us by email or use this form.

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Standing Up For Life

Photos from the event can be found in the Photo Gallery and on the Diocese of Grand Rapids website.