December 28, 2015

Advent/Christmas Mass 2015

It has been our custom for many years now to head into Christmas vacation with a Mass at a church in Manchester.  For the past five years, the Mass has been held at St. Anthony's Church, the home of our chaplain Fr. Richard Dion.  St. Joseph's Regional Junior High School is housed on the top floor of St. Anthony's School so it's easy for them to join us each year as well.

This year's Mass was held on December 18 and, as always, was a beautiful way to end the calendar year and head into our 2 week vacation.  Fr. Richard was our celebrant and was assisted by Deacon Michael Sartori '06.  God willing, Deacon Michael will be ordained a priest in June, the first Trinity High School alum to be ordained a priest (I believe) since 1988 when Cardinal Gerald Lacroix '75 was ordained.  Seminarian David Gagnon '11 also served as Master of Ceremonies.  David will be ordained in about 3-4 years.  Our choir led us in song with traditional Christmas hymns and Mr. Maurier '72 of course sang "O Holy Night" in French following Communion, a 30-year tradition.  Some say it's not Christmas until Mr. Maurier sings!

In his homily, Fr. Richard spoke of how we know God exists - through the way we love one another.  He got the idea for this homily when he asked a student a few weeks back what sort of questions are on the minds of the students.  The boy said students are always asking for "proof" of God's existence and after he left Fr. Richard said to me, "I have my homily!"

Fr. Richard being Fr. Richard
Fr. Richard also had an idea to send the students off by singing the "Alleluia Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.  He thought it might be a fun way to get everyone in the Christmas spirit but we all weren't sure how it would go over!  He had the students "practice" the "Alleluia, Alleluia" refrain during his homily and after Mass was over, I "sang" 'Prince of Peace' and Fr. Richard led everyone in "Alleluia, Alleluia."  We then had people set up throughout the church to intone the other verses, including our dean of students Mr. Smith which absolutely brought the house down.  I was standing at the ambo and when he sang "Lord of Lords" from the side, you should have seen every head look to their left in unison, it was a sight to see.  They all went crazy.  

Mr. Mailloux and Mr. Maurier (l-r)
After this (and after apologizing to Mr. Maurier for singing so poorly after his beautiful hymn!) we presented the annual Bishop Leo O'Neil Award.  We began this award five years ago as a way to honor Bishop O'Neil, the eighth bishop of Manchester.  As you will read in my remarks below, it was Bishop O'Neil who single handily kept Trinity open in the 1990's when the school was facing debt of $1 million and plummeting enrollment.  This annual award honors a member of the school community who has shown the same commitment and dedication to Trinity.  This year we actually honored two people - Mr. Mailloux '72 and Mr. Maurier '72.  This year, they are both marking their 40th anniversary of working at Trinity High School and the 45th anniversary of their entering the school in 1970.  They both offered brief remarks, saying how their job wasn't really a job, thanks to all of the students they have had over the years.  Mr. Mailloux also commented on how happy he is to connected to Bishop O'Neil in this way as he was there when the bishop kept the school opened and believed in Trinity High School.  It was very moving.

Here are my remarks from the presentation of the award:

Each year at the end of our Advent liturgy, we pause for a moment to honor a member of the Trinity High School community who has shown the same commitment and dedication to our school 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 we are actually honoring two members of the Trinity High School community - Mr. Denis Mailloux and Mr. Maurice Maurier.  Mr. Mailloux and Mr. Maurier have been a part of Trinity High School since the day it opened its doors, 45 years ago on Sept. 8, 1970.  As you know, on that day three Catholic high schools in Manchester merged to form Trinity High School - Bishop Bradley High School, Immaculata High School, and St. Anthony’s High School.  Prior to the merger, Mr. Mailloux was a student at Bishop Bradley and Mr. Maurier attended St. Anthony’s.  Both began their junior years at the brand new Trinity High School in 1970, graduating two years later in 1972.  As luck would have it, they both went on to Saint Anselm College, and they were both assigned to Trinity in January of 1976 as student teachers.  Mr. Mailloux student taught English under the tutelage of the legendary Mr. Gorski and Mr. Maurier student taught in the science department.  Fortunately there were openings in the English and science departments in the fall of 1976 so the two remained at Trinity - and have never left!  Although I must say we came close to losing Mr. Maurier.  As Mr. Maurier was wrapping up his student teaching at Trinity and considering his career options, he was offered a job at West High School.  But one of our science teachers went on maternity leave that spring and while technically still in college, Mr. Maurier took over her position.  Luckily for us, the other teacher decided not to return that fall and Mr. Maurier remained.  Thus, Mr. Maurier likes to remind Mr. Mailloux that he out ranks him in years of service!

Mr. Mailloux and Mr. Maurier have literally devoted their entire adult lives to generations of students of Trinity High School as teachers and administrator.  In addition to teaching science, Mr. Maurier has taught French at Trinity High School and has directed our choir along with Mrs. Trachim for over 30 years.  He is a master teacher and is considered one of the finest science teachers in the state of New Hampshire (and he’s a pretty good singer to boot).  After a distinguished career as an English teacher, Mr. Mailloux served our school in the admissions office, as assistant principal, and for the past 20 years as our principal.  He is the longest serving principal in our school’s history by 10 years!  Mr. Mailloux became principal of Trinity High School around the time the school was in danger of closing and it was he who helped close the school‘s debt of over $1 million, added science labs, and enhanced the academic and Catholic mission of the school.  For the past number of years, he has also served as the principal of St. Joseph’s Regional Junior High School, an additional job he does for no salary.

Few educators can say they have been a part of their institution since the very beginning and few educators‘ lives and careers have been inextricably linked as Mr. Mailloux and Mr. Maurier.  Trinity High School has been their lives’ work and you and thousands of past Pioneers are the beneficiaries of their vocations.  Please join me in congratulating the 2015 recipients of the Bishop Leo O’Neil Award - Mr. Denis Mailloux and Mr. Maurice Maurier.

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