News & Updates

One Sister’s Vocation Efforts in the Classroom

When Elizabeth was asked to teach religion, she said to herself, “Do NOT be boring!”

Sister Elizabeth DeMerchant is from a very small town in Northern Maine named Easton. Her father was a potato famer and her mother taught home economics at the local high school. She was active in sports, band, chorus, FFA, 4-H and parish life. After completing high school in 1984, she studied home economics at the University of Maine at Farmington and then taught for three years in Bingham, Maine. Elizabeth earned a MS and PhD from Virginia Tech and then managed a test kitchen in the engineering department at Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex in Richmond, VA. After 9/11, she opted to move home to Maine. She earned a master’s degree in special education and taught grade 5 to 8 at Holbrook Middle School in Holden, Maine, while living at her family’s apple orchard.

Elizabeth entered the IHM community in 2015 and worked at the NativityMiguel School of Scranton as a candidate. As an apostolic novice, Elizabeth was hired by the diocese of Scranton to teach in the individualized instruction program at All Saints Academy. The following year she was sent to re-start the individualized instruction program at Holy Cross High School. Currently, Elizabeth teaches religion at All Saints Academy in Scranton and moderates afterschool clubs include LEGO, K’nex, and chess.

All Saints Academy is a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, English, Art, and Math) school for the Diocese of Scranton. The former school principal, Doreen Dougherty, saw something in Elizabeth and asked her to teach religion to the children in grades 5 to 8. Elizabeth was asked to “engage” the children in religion class. Her religion and social studies classes do projects the majority of time. The projects always have a hands-on component and include a lot of LEGO and K’nex. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Elizabeth wrote a STREAM book of projects that the IHM Congregation will self-publish on

When Elizabeth was asked to teach religion, she said to herself, “Do NOT be boring!” She did a little research online about why people leave the church. Science is the number one reason why people lose their faith. She decided to create STREAM projects about sisters, priests, and brothers who are famous as inventors or for their contributions to science. In her lesson, each sixth-grade boy chooses a priest or brother and the girls chose a sister to research and write about their life. In addition, she has a bulletin board entitled “IHM Saints” in her classroom with the IHM vocation poster and prayer cards of the deceased sisters posted on it. Elizabeth is the only religious most of the children know. She frequently answers questions about life as a Sister of IHM and invites sisters to be guest speakers in her classroom. Frequently, religion is the children’s favorite class and the children say it is a break in their day. Religion class meets five days a week. For prayer, Elizabeth expands the children’s knowledge by incorporating different methods each day, e.g., introducing the saint of the day, praying a decade of the rosary, journaling and singing, the 3-minute retreat, silent meditation, and reading scripture each day. The activities in the classroom are designed to be fun.

Above all, it’s Elizabeth’s desire that the children will not lose their faith as adults. She strives to help the students know about religious life and see it as an option in their lives. The theme here? “The work is plentiful but the laborers are few.”

Thank you, Elizabeth, for telling your story about teaching your students about religious life and the Catholic faith! We, IHMs, are most grateful!

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