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Alexandria eighth grader creates a podcast on saints

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Liam Slattery had all the tools he needed: the microphone on his headset, some technical know-how from his days editing video game clips with his friends, and a list of saints from his teacher. After doing research online and synthesizing the information into one- to two-minute scripts, the eighth grader from Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria was ready to start his podcast on the lives of the saints. 

The saintly project began toward the end of last school year. A few weeks into virtual learning, Aimee Slattery noticed her son was finishing his schoolwork pretty quickly. So she asked Susan Doyle, the middle school religion teacher and parish director of religious education, if there was something extra Liam could tackle. Knowing Liam's skill set and that he was preparing for confirmation, Doyle suggested a podcast on the saints. 

“It started as a confirmation apostolic service (project), but now it’s just something I do for fun in my spare time,” said Liam. “It's awesome getting to learn new saints.” So far, Liam has recorded a handful of podcasts on lesser-known saints, such as St. Laura Montoya of Colombia, or those whose cause is up for sainthood, such as Blessed Chiara Badano of Italy. Then, he sends the file to Doyle, who emails the podcast around to the middle schoolers and their parents. 

The podcasts highlight important biographical details of that saint’s life occasionally interspersed with the saint’s own words. So far, Liam’s favorite saint is St. Elizabeth Hesselblad, a Swedish woman who entered the Catholic Church in her adulthood, became a Bridgettine sister and cared for the sick as a nurse. “She’s really selfless and taught me a lot about how I can grow,” said Liam. 

Liam knows some of his classmates struggle with reading, but through his project he’s found there are many ways to learn about the lives of the saints, such as cool and interesting videos online or even podcasts. “(This project) was really a joy to do,” he said. 

Liam’s glad he’s been able to use a newer medium to expose his peers to the saints, especially as many are in the midst of choosing their patron for their confirmation in November. Liam already had chosen his, though — St. Anthony of Padua, patron of recovering lost things. “My birthday is his feast day,” he said. “And also I lose a lot of items.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020