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
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.