August 26, 2014

May her soul...

Please keep in your prayers the soul of Lillian Heifetz, the mother of Dr. Heifetz of our science department.  Mrs. Heifetz passed away this week after a brief illness.  The Heifetz's are members of the Jewish faith so in their tradition we pray:

May G-d remember the soul of my mother...may her soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.

Freshman Retreat

Yesterday we kicked off our retreat season with the freshman retreat.  We hold their retreat on the first Monday of the school year as a way to introduce them to the school, each other, and to our shared faith.  We held this year's retreat at Saint Anthony's Church and School here in Manchester.

We began by attending the 8:00am Mass at the parish where our chaplain, Father Richard Dion, is the pastor.  Father Richard celebrated the Mass and urged the freshmen not to just learn knowledge about Math, Science, etc. at Trinity but rather to come to know the information more deeply, to come to know each other, and ultimately to come and know Jesus Christ.  He also spoke to the students after Mass explaining that Saint Anthony's Church was built in the shape of a boat (the ceiling looks like the bottom of a boat) and the bell tower as an anchor.  He gave an analogy of the boat and the anchor to our faith but I must confess it totally slipped my mind as I type this!!

From here we went over to the school gym where Ms. Foley and Ms. Zolkos along with some members of the junior and senior class helped conduct the retreat.  I had to run back to Trinity to teach my classes and returned in time for a fun project.  The students created bricks out of paper and wrote their talents and abilities on them.  They then used the bricks to construct a building with "Jesus" written on the cornerstone.  The idea was that as a Christian community, we all use our gifts and talents to build our community with Christ as the cornerstone.  If He is removed, the whole thing comes tumbling down (which they showed by removing the cornerstone).

The students then broke for lunch and after lunch I showed the film "We Have a Table for Four Ready - The Story of Saint Francis Inn."  Saint Francis Inn, of course is a meal center in Philadelphia that we take students to each summer.  I like to show this to give an example of the works of mercy we perform at Trinity and how we are called to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.  Finally, we moved to the church where we prayed some words of St. John Paul II, listened to a scripture reading, and I offered a reflection. My reflection was pretty much the same as the one I gave to the upperclassmen last week about Michael Griffin, James Foley, and Liam Quinn '15.

In all, the day went off without a hitch and the freshmen were amazing.  They participated well and paid very close attention.  I think we're off to a good start!

August 22, 2014

And we're off...

Yesterday was the first day of school at Trinity High School for the 2014-2015 academic year.  The day was really just an orientation day with the upperclassmen hearing some talks and taking care of housekeeping matters.  The freshmen came later in the day and spent the afternoon getting to know the school and one another.  The day ended with a BBQ which we had to move into the cafeteria at the last minute because of heavy rain.

Mr. Mailloux '72 and I spoke to the sophomores, juniors, and seniors and I told them about three people who inspired me this summer:

1. Michael Griffin, the first principal of Trinity High School who died this week.  I told the students that we literally would not be here were it not for Michael who led Trinity at the very beginning and took on the role at the last minute.  His death this week was the end of an era for our school and I asked the students to pray for him and to be thankful for all he did to start our school in 1970.

2. James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist who was beheaded this week by ISIS.  James was from Wolfeboro and a Catholic and spent his live committed to the poor and people on the margins of society.  I told the students how he never chose the comfortable life and he lived and worked about those who stories were rarely told and for that he gave his life.  I told them about his faith sustained him during his captivity in Libya and that he never felt alone because he was always having a conversation with God.  James has inspired me greatly and I want to do more this year to honor him and to inspire students.

3. Liam Quinn '15.  Liam took part in our mission trip this summer to St. Francis Inn and you may recall the story of him giving his last bit of money to Bro. Xavier, OFM, a friar there to help him with his subway token fund for the poor and homeless.  I told the students how inspired and moved I was by Liam's act and how it reminded me of the story of the widow's mite.

I am going to expound on these stories at our freshman retreat on Monday and as I was writing this I came up with an idea to honor and remember Mr. Foley.  Stay tuned!

August 20, 2014

Back to work

This past Monday, the faculty and staff of Trinity High School started a new academic year.  As has become our custom, our first day was a retreat day and an opportunity for all of us to spend time together in prayer, performing works of mercy, and spending time as a  community.

We began our morning with breakfast in the cafeteria so everyone could catch up.  We then came together for Mass in our chapel celebrated by our superintendent of schools, Fr. John Fortin, OSB.  Following Mass we sent everyone out to perform some works of mercy at various agencies we assist throughout the year:

Blessed Sacrament Parish Food Pantry
Families in Transition
New Hampshire Food Bank
New Horizons
Our Place
Saint Raphael Parish Food Bank

I wanted the teachers and staff to get a sense of the work our students support and engage with with the hope that they too will help with our efforts.

After lunch we gathered again in our chapel for our final prayer service and commissioning.  Together prayed the Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher by St. John Baptist de la Salle, listened to a reading on Catholic schools and a reflection by me (see below).  Our principal, Denis Mailloux '72, then led us all in a commissioning for the new year and offered a prayer for the teachers and staff.  We also gave candles to our new teachers and those teachers celebrating an anniversary this year.  The candles are inscribed with quotes by St. John Baptist de la Salle.  Those new members of our community receiving candles were:

Zachary Goodier of our theology department
Camille Lacroix-Moulton of our English department
Michael Murphy of our science department
Eric Pascoal of our English department

We also presented candles to two staff members that joined us over the past couple of years in the middle of the year so they never received candles:

Josh Holman, our athletic trainer
Deb Verrier, our guidance secretary

Our anniversary teachers were:

Steve Chervincky of our science department - 5 years
Ray Clement '63 of our maintenance department - 5 years
Danielle Waldrupe of our English department - 5 years
Terri Henning of our English department - 10 years
Jeff Jenkins of our fine arts department - 10 years
Gary Leonard of our social studies department - 10 years
Bill Sheehan '79 of our math department -  10 years
Karen Courter of our English department - 20 years
Priscilla Moquin of our business office - 20 years
Pat Smith, dean of students and admissions director - 20 years

Finally, I passed around a small bowl with the names of all our students and asked each person there to take a list of names and commit to prayer for those students everyday this academic year.  I explain more about this in my reflection below.

Yesterday and today we gathered again for workshops and tomorrow the students arrive for their orientations and the first day of classes is Friday.

Here we go…

Less than a month before he died, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Amherst College during the dedication of its new library named after Robert Frost.  Kennedy said:

Many years ago, Woodrow Wilson said, "What good is a political party unless it's serving a great national purpose?" And what good is a private college or university unless it's serving a great national purpose? The library being constructed today - this College itself, all of this, of course, was not done merely to give this school's graduates an advantage, an economic advantage, in the life struggle. It does do that. But in return for that, in return for the great opportunity which society gives the graduates of this and related schools, it seems to me incumbent upon this and other schools' graduates to recognize their responsibility to the public interest.
This passage also sums up the mission of our school - except we exist not to serve a great national purpose but rather a great heavenly purpose.  That is why we begin this academic year not with a workshop but rather a day of prayer, of mercy, and of community.  Today, I hope, is a reminder that our mission is not just one of academics, our primary mission is salvation of our souls and the souls of our students.  Saint John Baptist de la Salle said that teachers are “ambassadors and ministers of Jesus Christ” and that we are to be “His cooperators in the salvation of souls.”  Teachers, he said, should watch over their students like Guardian Angels.
This is the principal care you must have for the children entrusted to you. It is the main reason why God has entrusted you with so holy a ministry, and it is on this that God will call you to give a very exact account on the day of judgment.
Note that he calls what we do a ministry, not a job.  He also says our very salvation depends on our students.  
This is why I am challenging all of us to do something a little extra this year.  In this basket are the names of every student at Trinity High School in groups of ten or so.  I am going to pass this basket around and ask that each of us take a list of names and commit to praying for these students everyday this year.  The prayer doesn’t have to be anything elaborate and you can pray in whatever manner suits you.  Someone once asked Pope Benedict XVI how many ways there were to pray and he said, “As many as there are people.”  Maybe tape this list to your desk, to someplace in your house, your car, wherever and take a moment each day to simply pray for them.  At the end of the year we will all write notes to each of the students letting them know that we have been praying for them throughout the year and remind them that we exist not just to get them into a good college but also into heaven.


May his soul...

A brick at our school entrance honoring our founders
We received the sad news this week that Michael Griffin, the founding principal of Trinity High School, has passed away.  Michael was a former Christian Brother and was named the first principal when Trinity opened in 1970 after three high schools - Bishop Bradley, Immaculata, and Saint Anthony's - merged.  The founding assistant principals were Sr. Angela Alosa, RSM and Sr. Frances Lessard, CSC. You may recall we presented her with the first Bishop Leo O'Neil award at our Advent/Christmas Mass in 2011.
Sr. Angela too left religious life and was married to Michael until her death in 1984.  Sr. Frances still lives in Manchester and works at Saint Anselm College.

Michael had been sick for a number of years with, I believe, cancer so his death was not unexpected.  But his death does mark the end of an era.  I met Michael twice - once in 2007 when I interviewed him and Sr. Frances and in 2011 when he spoke at an assembly we hosted to honor the Christian Brothers during our 40th anniversary celebrations.  He was a quiet and humble man but very generous with his time.

You can read his obituary and more about his life here.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

August 9, 2014

Knights of Columbus Convention

Each year the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world, holds a convention.  I am a proud 4th degree member of the Knights and I became a member at Saint Anselm College Council #4875.

I was flipping through the channels the other night and came across coverage of the convention on TV and lo and behold saw our friend Cardinal Lacroix '75 giving the keynote address.  You can read the text of it here.

July 26, 2014

May his soul...

Please keep our assistant principal, Mr. Gadecki, and his family in your prayers as his father passed away unexpectedly this week.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.