Before we left for Christmas vacation last week, we celebrated our annual Advent/Christmas Mass along with the St. Joseph's Regional Junior High School community. The Mass was celebrated once again at St. Anthony's Church, the parish of our chaplain Father Richard Dion. Father Richard celebrated the Mass and Msgr. Anthony Fronterio, the rector of St. Joseph Cathedral and the chaplain at St. Joe's, con-celebrated. They were assisted by Deacon Paul Leonarczyk P'14, the chancellor of the Eparchy of Newton which is part of the Melkite Eastern Catholic Church. David Gagnon '11, now a seminarian with the Diocese of Manchester, was the Master of Ceremonies.
Even though we were still in the Advent season, we do play up the "smells and bells" for this Mass. There is a lot of singing, tons of incense, and lots of pomp. It's the last time our school communities will gather before Christmas so we try to make the Mass very special. Continuing our custom of having one of the readings proclaimed in the native tongue of one of our students (with the English translation in the worship aid), St. Joe's 7th grader Niki Dorfshani read the first reading in her native Farsi. After, Deacon Leonarczyk chanted the gospel as is the custom in the Eastern Rite. In his homily, Father Richard, did remind us that this was not a substitute for Christmas Mass and encouraged everyone to live their faith lives as faith and Christmas go together like ketchup and hot dogs or pizza and pepperoni.
Following Mass we presented the third annual Bishop Leo O'Neil award. Bishop Leo was the 8th Bishop of Manchester and died in 1997. In the early 1990’s, Trinity High School was on the verge of closing due to low enrollment and financial difficulty. One morning, Bishop Leo unexpectedly visited Trinity. He stopped into a number of classrooms that day, chatted with students, and asked them about their school. Many years later, we learned that on that very day Bishop Leo was attending a meeting of the Diocesan Finance Committee which was deciding on whether or not to close Trinity High School. Bishop Leo told the committee that he had visited the school that day, he saw what it was all about, and despite its financial troubles it would remain open. Each year at our Advent/Christmas Mass, we wish to remember Bishop Leo for believing in Trinity High School by honoring a member of our school community, past or present, who has shown the same commitment and dedication.
This year's recipient was Mr. Stanley Gorski '58 (posthumously). Mr. Gorski, who died in August, taught English at Bishop Bradley/Trinity HIgh School for 51 years. Mr. Mailloux '72, who worked side by side with Mr. Gorski for almost 40 years, accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Gorski and made some beautiful remarks connecting Mr. Gorski and Bishop Leo. Last year Mr. Gorski was the one making the presentation of the award to his longtime colleague Ms. Kudrick. Little did we know that he would not be with us the following year.