Last Friday we hosted our annual baby shower to benefit Our Place, an agency of New Hampshire Catholic Charities. Our Place assists young parents with education, services, parenting skills, etc. On Tuesday, students from Ms. Foley's Mod F class filled Mr. Sheehan's '79 truck with all the items and Mr. Sheehan and I brought the items over to Our Place. They said this was the most we've ever donated and I say the secret is that our parents are excited to be shopping for baby stuff again. This picture really doesn't do any justice to the number of items we gave, there was a ton on the floor too!
The staff of Our Place with me and Mr. Sheehan
Thank you to everyone who helped make this such a success.
One of my favorite things that I do at Trinity High School is serve as the advisor for our Youth and Government program. Youth and Government is a 3-day mock government program at the New Hampshire State House with hundreds of high school students from across the state. The program is currently in its 67th year and Trinity has had a chapter for 10 years or so. This is my 8th year (I think) serving as the advisor and I love having the opportunity to have our students engage in civic life, debate the issues, and to be inspired to be more involved in government and politics.
Yesterday was the first day of this year's session and the other two days are April 10 and 11. Yesterday's event was called the Pre-Legislative session and is really an organizational day where the students elect the governor, speaker, Senate president, Chief Justice and other positions. They also learn a little about the work they will be doing when we return next month.
What's so amazing is that the kids have complete control over the State House. We use the House and Senate chambers, the governor's office (not her personal office, just the suite), Supreme Court chambers, etc. There are 39 states that have Youth and Government programs and not many have that sort of access and we are so very lucky...it's so New Hampshire. I know the New Hampshire State House like the back of my hand now, one year we even got to go to the top of the golden dome.
I also enjoy having the opportunity also to catch up with the teachers from the other schools in the program, most of whom are from rural parts of the state. We are the only Catholic school in the program and the only one from Manchester so it's fun to talk to my public school counterparts and to hear what's going on in their world. I especially like chatting with a teacher from Littleton, Mr. Pierre Lafitte. He's actually retired now but he still helps out with athletics and Youth and Government at the school. He's originally from New York City but he was telling me yesterday that when he was applying for teaching jobs during his senior year of college over 40 years ago, he got a letter completely out of the blue from the Diocese of Manchester asking him to consider teaching at a now closed Catholic school at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Littleton. He said he has no idea how they got his name! He was in college in Florida and he was thinking of teaching at a school in Delaware where they offered to pay for his masters degree. But he thought he'd check out Littleton for the heck of it and when he got there he fell in love with it. "You could actually breath the air" he laughed. He had an interview with two priests and after five minutes they said, "So when are you moving up here?" He said, "What? I haven't even decided?" "Oh sure you have, sign here" they said. Ha! He did sign and he taught at the school for two years before moving to Littleton High School. He said he doesn't miss New York at all.
We have 18 students taking part from Trinity this year which is a big jump in our numbers from last year. One year we had about 25 and last year was a transition year as many of our participants had graduated. This year we are back and I can't wait for the next two days in April.
Each year during Lent, we sponsor a baby shower to benefit the good people of Our Place here in Manchester. Our Place is an agency of New Hampshire Catholic Charities that provides assistance to young parents (from child bearing age-25). I love Our Place because it's a perfect example of the Church walking the walk and talking the talk - we encourage all women to choose life....and we will also offer to help them with the baby.
Our Place is located up the street on Oak Street and is a beautiful home that is warm and inviting to young parents. The parents go there for pregnancy services, child development education, parenting skills, and support services. As I told our students, I became a father at 30 and I had no clue what to do (I still don't!) so I can't even imagine what it's like to be a teen parent. Our Place exists to help those parents and to make the process of being a parent less stressful.
We have been running this baby shower for many, many years and our school community always comes through. I think it's so popular because our parents have fun shopping for babies again! To celebrate we had cake and soda although I missed Mrs. Photiades P'12, '14 who would always come in the morning of the baby shower and decorate Campus Ministry.
I am not dropping the items off until Monday afternoon so if folks still want to donate, they can bring the items in on Monday. Thanks to everyone for their support.
Yesterday the Church celebrated the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Diocese of Manchester and the namesake of our first predecessor high school, St. Joseph High School for Boys. I also have a strong devotion to St. Joseph as I was having a hard time finding a job after I graduated from college and I came across a prayer to St. Joseph for employment. I prayed the prayer for a few days and I got a job later that week.
To mark the day, we came together as a school community for Mass. The celebrant of the Mass was Bishop John McCormack, the bishop emeritus of Manchester. Bishop McCormack was a good friend to Trinity High School during his tenure as bishop and we are always happy to have him back on occasion to pray with us. At the end of Mass, he granted the students a dress down day for today, something they always appreciate. There was one already scheduled for today (a paid one to benefit NHS) so we will mark his dress down day next Friday.
Mr. Mailloux '72 and the Champion Cheer Team and their trophy!
Following Mass, our athletic director Mr. Polak recognized the winter athletes and teams who had major accomplishments during the winter sports season, including our cheer team who won the Division III championship! Congratulations to all the athletes for representing us so well this season.
When Bishop Libasci came to New Hampshire, one of his ideas was to institute a Catholic Day at the State House. The idea came from a similar event all the dioceses in New York do - they spend two days at the New York State House meeting with legislators, lobbying, etc. After a lot of hard work planning, we had our first Public Policy day in New Hampshire yesterday. The was organized in large part by Meredith Cook '89, the director of public policy for the Diocese of Manchester. I serve on the Public Policy Commission with Meredith and so she invited Trinity High School students to attend and be a part of the day. I brought along the students in my AP Government and Politics class as well as the participants in our Youth and Government program. In all, about 25 students attended (some couldn't make it) along with 150 other Catholics from around the diocese.
The day began at the Holiday Inn which is across the street from the State House. We were treated to some tasty breakfast food followed by opening prayer and remarks by Bishop Libasci. Bob Dunn, the chief lobbyist for the diocese, spoke about a number of bills that the diocese is following, including a bill that would repeal a buffer zone around abortion clinics, a bill that will study end of life issues, education tax credits, and cuts in social services. He told a humorous story about a group of Sisters of the Holy Cross who testified against medicaid cuts and sat in the front row while the committee took their vote - the funding wasn't cut. Bob called the sisters their nuclear weapon!
Following this, we all headed up to the State House where we took a group photo. We then went to the House chamber where we were going to watch a House session. However, for the first time in history, the House wasn't in session on a Wednesday in March. I guess they've been so efficient this session that they were able to take the day off. Instead, we heard presentations from House Speaker Shawn Jasper, the woman who conducts tours of the State House (I forget her name) and another presentation from Bob Dunn. This was followed by breakout sessions and Trinity students were fortunate to get their own special session. Before that, however, we took a a group photo on the Speaker's rostrum, toured the governor's office and spent some time in the Senate gallery. We went to the Legislative Office Building and heard some talks by two state representatives - Rep. Robert Cushing from Hampton and Rep. Jordan Ulery from Hudson. They spoke about the legislative process, working with members from the other party (Cushing is a Democrat and Ulery a Republican), current legislation, etc. Meredith then introduced Devon Chaffee from the New Hampshire ACLU and she and Meredith spoke about the roles of lobbyists and how sometimes the two come together to work on issues despite differences on major issues such as abortion.
We all then went back to the Holiday Inn for lunch and a keynote address by former Speaker Donna Sytek and closing remarks by Bishop Libasci. I was happy to run into Rep. Bill Nelson, the father of my good friend and our former Campus Minister Fr. Andrew Nelson and his brother Bill (Bill was the best man at my wedding and is my oldest son's godfather, Andrew is my daughter's godfather). I've know Rep. Nelson for many years and was glad to have him join us for lunch.
We had to sneak out after the bishop's talk as we were running late and our bus driver had to make other pick-ups. But it was a wonderful, wonderful day and the message the students heard over and over was to stay/get involved, anyone can really run for office, and their voice matters. Many folks, including the speaker, commented on how happy they were to see young people there as they aren't always active in politics. I hope and pray that they were inspired and will remain active, faithful citizens.
Today was the first of three days I will spend in Concord this week. Each year, the New Hampshire Historical Society sponsors a conference for students taking AP US History and I always take my class. The Historical Society is located right behind the New Hampshire State House and is a beautiful building. The conference is four hours and consists of a talk by a former teacher from St. Paul's, Mr. Bill Kellogg, who talks to the students about the AP exam and the expectations. Mr. Kellogg is retired and lives in Denver but comes home each year to speak at this conference. He used to be an exam reader so he speaks from personal experience.
Following Mr. Kellogg's talk there is always a lecture on some aspect of social studies from a scholar. Some years they are excellent like last year's talk on Civil War monuments in New Hampshire and some are so so like a talk we once heard on baskets! This year's talk was about the 1774 attack on Ft. William and Mary (now Ft. Constitution) in New Castle. I confess that I didn't know anything about this topic so I enjoyed learning something new (you can read the presenter's, Tom Kehr, article on the attack here). The schools then broke into groups and worked on an thesis writing activity and after lunch made presentations on their thesis statements. We were all wrapped up a little before 1pm.
Tomorrow I am taking my AP Government and Politics class and my Youth and Government group to the State House for Catholic Day - more to come on that tomorrow.
Last week, Fr. Richard Vickery '41, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester died. Fr. Vickery taught at Bishop Bradley High School from 1951-1966 and served our country in World War II and as a chaplain in the Vietnam War. His funeral was yesterday at St. Joseph Cathedral and I attended to represent Trinity High School. Bishop Libasci was the celebrant and Msgr. Anthony Fronterio, the rector of the cathedral, was the homilist. I was happy to have had the chance to celebrate Fr. Vickery's life and to pray for the repose of his soul. You can read more about Fr. Vickery at a blog post I did earlier this week.
Today we received more sad news - the death of Ms. Byron's dog Bodhi. Ms. Byron teaches in our social studies department and Bodhi was an annual participant in our Blessing of the Animals celebrations. He was a Newfoundland dog but was the sweetest and most gentle dog. Sometimes I would pull up to work and see him in Ms. Byron's backseat as he refused to let her leave the house without him! He died suddenly this morning and Ms. Byron was distraught. She and her husband Dave loved Bodhi and he was a legend at Trinity High School. I once lost a pet suddenly (our cat Samantha died when I was in high school after climbing into the wheel well of a neighbor's car) so I know what they are going through. Please keep them in your prayers.