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Preschool offers children faith-based education


PORT ST. LUCIE  |  Lent and Holy Week were a special time at the Ryan Center for Young Children Ministry on the grounds of Holy Family Parish in Port St. Lucie. Activities at the Catholic preschool help advance its mission of religious formation and academic excellence for preschoolers and toddlers.

“The purpose of the preschool is to build a good faith foundation for young children as they grow up,” said Father Tri Pham, Holy Family’s pastor. “Our children need a good foundation in their faith and, as Jesus said to Peter, ‘On this rock, I build my church.’ The children are the ‘rock,’ the future of the church.”    

Ellen Bradley, preschool director, is a former Head Start teacher and childhood development services manager in Fort Pierce. With more than 28 years of experience teaching young children, she said the students receive a well-rounded preschool education guided by the Florida Early Learning Birth-to-Five Standards. 

“Children learn best through guided play and experimentation, and through experiences for creative expression,” Bradley said. Social and emotional development of the child “is achieved by positive interactions with peers and teachers, and critical self-regulation skills are taught as obedience to God’s law” and with the expectations of “parents, teachers and the community,” she added.

The school is situated on the parish grounds surrounded by a wildlife area where the youngsters can observe and learn “to appreciate the abundance of everything that God has created,” Bradley said. “We strive daily to help children build a warm and loving relationship with God.”

The Catholic preschool is in full compliance with security and safety protocols of the Diocese of Palm Beach as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families. The diocese gave approval to open the school on Sept. 1, 2020, and it has been licensed by the state since August 2020, offering age-appropriate early childhood development academically and spiritually.

Employees of the Ryan Center must pass a national Level II background screening and a live-scan fingerprinting that is separate from and in addition to the diocesan screening, she said. 

Bradley gave high accolades to one of the school’s teachers, Joshua Benjamin. “Mr. Joshua is a highly rated preschool teacher recognized by the city of Port St. Lucie,” she said.

Led by their teachers to church every Friday morning, the preschoolers experience a short time of Eucharistic adoration. Walking quietly into the church, the children are taught to bow in reverence to Jesus in the tabernacle before entering the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Afterward, the students go out to the Mary Garden to honor the Blessed Mother with prayer and song.

“OK, my friends, now it’s time to get to work so that we have time to play,” Bradley told them recently.

During the Fridays of Lent, the students were escorted to the parish hall kitchen to pray with the Knights of Columbus, who were preparing food for the evening fish fries. Bradley led the youngsters in prayer.

The preschool is named in honor of Msgr. John Ryan and Msgr. Leo Ryan, who served Holy Family Parish. For more information about the preschool, call 772-337-2504 or email

Click here to read this on the Florida Catholic