December 20, 2014

"O come let us adore Him..."

One of our finest traditions at Trinity High School is our annual Advent/Christmas Mass held on the last day of the calendar year before we go on Christmas vacation.  We always hold this Mass at a Church and for the past four years, it has been at St. Anthony's Church, the parish of our chaplain Father Richard Dion.  The students from St. Joseph Regional Junior High School always join us for Mass as do many parents, family, friends, and alumni.  Although it is still Advent, we have a little more "smells and bells" at this Mass with incense and amazing music (as always) from our choir.  This year about ten alums came back and sang with the choir.

The first reading is always read by a student from St. Joe's and in a foreign language with the English translation in the program.  This year 8th grader Trong Hoang proclaimed the reading from Judges in his native Vietnamese.  Mrs. Boyd P'17 graciously prayed the Prayers of the Faithful for us.  In his homily, Fr. Richard encouraged the students to have the courage to speak up and ask their parents and family to go to Mass on Christmas and to remember that the celebration of Christmas is not about us, but about a child and our belief in Him.

A few months ago, Caitlin Montgomery '18 approached her theology teacher, Ms. Zolkos, and asked if she could receive her first communion at a Trinity Mass.  She was baptized as a baby but never received her first communion.  With Fr. Richard's blessing, we were thrilled to have Caitlin receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at this Mass.  After Fr. Richard received communion, he came down and blessed Caitlin, gave her the Body of Christ and seminarian David Gagnon '11 gave her the Blood of Christ.  Prior to Mass, she also made her first confession with Fr. Richard.  Caitlin was so very excited to do this and it was such a powerful witness for her to stand alone in front of the entire church and receive Jesus for the first time.  Most students don't want that sort of attention and initially Caitlin didn't either but Ms. Zolkos told her about the witness she would be and she smiled and said, "Oh, OK."

Following communion, Mr. Maurier '72 continued another long Trinity tradition by singing "O Holy Night" in French ("Minuit Chretien").  Everyone eagerly looks forward to him singing this and the church erupted in applause after he finished.  Fr. Richard joked, "You sing almost as well as I do!"

Finally, after the closing hymn we presented the fourth annual Bishop Leo O'Neil Award.  Each year, we honor a member of our school community for showing the same commitment and dedication to Trinity High School as Bishop O'Neil did.  Bishop O'Neil was the Bishop of Manchester from 1990-1997 and it was he who kept Trinity High School open when financial difficulty and low enrollment threatened the school's closure.  Bishop O'Neil visited the school on the day the diocesan financial council was going to recommend the school close.  We had no idea why he was there until many years later and he told the council that he spent time at the school and that he has seen what it's all about and it will remain open despite its troubles.  Shortly after that, Mr. Mailloux '72 was named principal and the rest is history.

This year's honoree was our longtime registrar, Mrs. Joanne Belliveau '62.  I wanted to honor Mrs. Belliveau last year but she wouldn't let me!  So this year I didn't tell her until I had the plaque engraved knowing she couldn't say no then.  You can see my remarks at the presentation below.

Mrs. Henning will be posting pictures on our Facebook page soon and when she does I will post a link.

This is always an amazing way to go into Christmas vacation and I am on cloud nine every year.  Enjoy the final days of Advent and have a blessed and holy Christmas.

Each year at the end of our Advent liturgy, we pause to honor a member of the Trinity High School community who has shown the same commitment and dedication as Bishop Leo O’Neil, the 8th bishop of Manchester.  As it says in your program insert, it was Bishop O’Neil who single-handily kept Trinity High School open in the 1990’s when the school was experiencing financial and enrollment difficulties.  Many people felt Trinity High School should close but after spending a few hours at the school, Bishop O’Neil said no, the school will remain open.  Simply put, we would not be here right now were it not for Bishop Leo O’Neil.

This year’s recipient of the Bishop Leo O’Neil award is Mrs. Joanne Belliveau, Trinity High School’s longtime registrar.  Over the past 26 years, Mrs. Belliveau has quietly and humbly maintained the academic records of EVERY student who has attended a Catholic high school in Manchester going back to St. Joseph’s High School for Boys which opened in 1886.  Mrs. Belliveau is the person who generates your report cards, oversees our grades, mails out transcripts, creates every class schedule, maintains Plus Portals, keeps records, completes reports, just to name a few things.  When we are enjoying summer vacation, she is here closing the books on one school year and getting ready for the next.  Her time at Trinity High School has been a family affair as her three children attended the school and her husband Jerry faithfully served as our technology coordinator for many, many years.  

She has done all this with the utmost humility and generosity, never, ever calling attention to herself.  In fact, the only way we could present Mrs. Belliveau with this award was by not telling her we were going to do it!  I waited until her name was engraved on the award before telling her, knowing she couldn’t back out at that point!  But, we couldn’t not honor her for all she has done for our school community, both past, present, and future. I stress future because Ms. Risdal tells me that she lives in dread that Mrs. Belliveau will sometime retire. She wanted to me to tell you Mrs. Belliveau that you can never leave.

Please join me in honoring and giving great thanks to one of the finest women to ever grace the halls of Trinity High School, the 2014 recipient of the Bishop Leo O’Neil Award, Mrs. Joanne Belliveau, class of 1962.

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