July 7, 2016

May his soul...

Last week, one of the sweetest students I ever taught, Nick Harrington '12, passed away after a 10-year struggle with cancer.  Nick first learned he had cancer when he was in middle school and completely by accident.  At the time, he was at the doctor's office for a routine check-up and when the nurse called his name, he went in and got blood work.  However, he wasn't scheduled for blood work, another Nick who was in the waiting room was.  Luckily, Nick got the blood work as it was how they discovered he had leukemia.  The illness went into remission by the time he got to Trinity High School and Nick lived life to the fullest.  He worked hard in school but also worked hard to have a normal life.  I learned at his wake that the cancer came back twice in college and last week he lost the good fight.

I was Nick's freshman theology teacher and one of the things we did in class was chant the names of the books of the Pentateuch - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.  I called it the Pentateuch Chant and I would randomly ask the kids to chant it throughout the semester.  Nick's mom told me that the doctors would often ask Nick questions during his chemo to test his memory and one of them was the Pentateuch Chant.  I was happy that was still on his mind during his illness.

Nick's wake was held this past Tuesday at Lambert's in Manchester and the funeral Mass was yesterday at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Bedford.  I was unable to attend the funeral but I guess Nick was named a honorary Manchester police officer during the eulogy and his badge number retired by the chief of police (Nick's dad works for the Manchester police).  I guess there wasn't a dry eye in the church after that.

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

Back home

Our former campus minster, Fr. Andrew Nelson, was recently assigned by Bishop Libasci as the temporary administrator of St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester.  Andrew was the founding campus minister at Trinity High School and a beloved theology teacher from 2003-2008.  He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Manchester in 2013 and has spent the past 2 1/2 years as the parochial vicar at parishes in Berlin and Gorham.  He will only be the administrator at the cathedral until October but it's nice to have him back in the area.  Andrew's replacement is Fr. Michael Sartori '06 so the Trinity connection continues.

Andrew celebrated his final Mass in Berlin on June 28 before a congregation of 1,000 people!  It was reminiscent of the goodbye banquet we had for him when he left Trinity in 2008.  The guy knows how to say goodbye!  You can read about his final Mass in the Berlin Daily Sun here.

"...if necessary use words."

One of our longest and finest traditions at Trinity High School is our annual mission trip to St. Francis Inn, a Franciscan meal center in Philadelphia.  Every summer, we take a group of rising seniors to this humble place in the Kensington neighborhood founded in 1979 by Franciscan Friars.  The inn has served a meal to the poorest of the poor every day since December 25, 1979 and is run by today by the friars, women religious, and lay volunteers.

Every summer since 2006, Trinity students have spent a week immersed at the inn serving others, praying together, and living in community.  I usually go for part of the trip but this was the first time in many years that I wasn't able to go.  The trip was chaperoned by Dr. Murphy of our science department and Mrs. Trachim P'08, '10 of our math department and the following students took part:

Calie Bourque '17
Anna Gadecki '17
Justin Gaudreault '17
Kelsey Mercurio '17
Samantha O'Connor '17
Kevin Serrano '17
David Tarr '17

If you know these students, you know that they are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the finest, kindest, gentlest students we have.  I guess the folks at the inn said this was one of the best groups we ever had which doesn't surprise me.  They worked hard, did whatever they were asked, and jumped right into the work.

The group left Trinity on June 25 and stayed until the following Saturday, July 2.  I am looking forward to getting together with them later this summer to hear more about their experience since I wasn't able to be with them.  I am grateful to Dr. Murphy and Mrs. Trachim for leading the trip and to the students for giving of themselves.

Hall of Honors 2016

On June 15, we hosted our 3rd annual Hall of Honors event.  The Hall of Honors is an opportunity for our school community to honor three alumni who have made lasting and dynamic contributions in their post-Trinity High School years.  This year we honored:

Dan has had a successful career as a college football coach (he is currently the head coach at Mississippi State) and has parlayed that success into some amazing charitable work.  In an emotional acceptance speech, Dan credited Trinity High School and God for forming him to be the person he is today and said all he ever wanted to do was coach football. Shannon is an accomplished attorney at the prestigious law firm Ropes and Gray in Boston and recently published a book titled "Method 15/33."  Kathleen has had a distinguished career in Catholic ministry, here in the Diocese of Manchester and for a time in New Jersey.  She is presently the Vice president of Mission and Ethics at St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua.

I had the pleasure of offering grace and saying a few words of welcome.  Our good friend Charlie Sherman, the executive director of New Horizons, served as our MC and offered some generous words about the relationship Trinity has with New Horizons, especially via Cardboard City.  It was an affirming evening for all that we do, past and present.

Alive and well

I am terribly sorry for the radio silence the past few weeks.  My laptop charger broke and I didn't get a new one until this week.  There is lots to catch you up on so stay tuned...

June 15, 2016

46th Commencement

Last night, the 46th graduating class of Trinity High School was sent into the world.  The ceremony was held in the Sullivan Arena at Saint Anselm College and as always, began with a sort of receiving line for the graduates.  Each year, the faculty and staff line up and shake the hands of, offer a hug to, and say goodbye to every graduate.  Ironically, this custom began many years ago because the principal at the time was worried that the students might have engaged in some extracurricular activities before the ceremony and he wanted to be sure!  Now of course it's a poignant send-off to our newest alumni.

I was honored to offer the opening prayer and before so, spoke of Saint Katharine Drexel.  Drexel was a 19th century wealthy native of Philadelphia who was concerned about the plight of African-Americans and Native Americans.  She visited Pope Leo XIII in 1887 asking for help with her efforts and his response to her was, "What about you?  What are you going to do about it?"  I told the students that they are about to enter a world that needs so much help and my question to them is the same question from Pope Leo XIII - What about you?  What are you going to do about it?  Jesus Christ, I told them, is no longer physically here and it's up to them, to me, and to all of us to carry on His mission and to be Christ to others and to bring His light to the world.  That is why they left the Abbey Church the night before at their Baccalaureate Mass carrying lighted candles, to symbolize their call to be the light of Christ.

For our prayer, then, I prayed the great prayer of St. Teresa of Avila "Christ has no body."  I had planned to read it off my phone but the internet connection in the arena was horrible.  So, I scribbled down the the words on the cover of the program and I wasn't able to read one of the words I wrote (it was "change")!  One of the monks at Saint Anselm Abbey said I write like a mass murderer, I guess he's right!  Our chaplain Fr. Richard Dion offered the final prayer and a final blessing for the newest alumni of Trinity High School.

Here is the St. Teresa of Avila prayer in full:

Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.

June 14, 2016

Baccalaureate Mass 2016

Last night, we held our 46th Baccalaureate Mass at Saint Anselm Abbey Church.  We have held the Mass at Saint Anselm for a number of years now and it is such a beautiful church (it's my favorite church).  Usually Bishop Libasci and Bishop Christian celebrate the Mass, rotating every other year but this week all of the American bishops are meeting in California for their annual spring meeting.  So our chaplain Father Richard Dion stepped in and was joined by our superintendent, Fr. John Fortin, OSB, and Fr. Richard Kelley, the pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Nashua.

The Mass is a "typical" Mass but begins with the graduates and the faculty processing in followed by the opening hymn and the procession of servers and priests.  We used the Mass settings for the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua as it was his feast day but for the readings we used Sirach 1:1-10 (about Wisdom) and Matthew 5:1-12 (the Beatitudes).  Gabrielle Fitzgerald '16 proclaimed the first reading and Fr. John read the gospel.

In his homily, Fr. Richard told the students that people will often think they are crazy in some respect.  But, he said, people thought people like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II were crazy for wanting to do what they did and they changed the world.  He also had all the parents stand and sing "Que Sera Sera" even though Fr. Andrew Nelson and I told him the parents might not know the song!  But,  they belted out the refrain quite well!

Following communion, it is our custom to have two students (one boy and one girl) offer reflections about their experience at Trinity High School.  This year Irean Ali '16 and Matthew McCahill '16 offered beautiful and poignant reflections.  Both spoke of how Trinity wasn't their first choice for high school but coming here changed them and now they can't imagine leaving.  Irean focused on how she grew over the past four years to become prepared for college and Matt talked about how moving here from California and repeating his sophomore year was the best thing for him.  Because he repeated a year, he couldn't play football his senior year.  But, he said, not playing helped him refocus on his grades and his relationship with his parents and it was the best possible outcome.

Following the reflections, the choir sang a song of blessing as the seniors stood and held lighted candles.  They carried the candles out in the closing procession to symbolize bringing the light of Christ into the world as they leave Trinity High School.

The Baccalaureate Mass is always quite beautiful and poignant.  Tonight is our commencement which we hold at Saint Anselm College's Sullivan Arena.