August 24, 2016

Back at it

The Trinity High School at the site of the old St. Joseph's High School for Boys
This past Monday, the faculty and staff of Trinity High School returned for another academic year!  As is our custom, we began our time with a faculty retreat and we changed things up a little bit this year.  As we continue with our reaffiliation with the Lasallian Christian Brothers, we thought it would be interesting to gather at the place where it all began - Saint Joseph's Cathedral.  The cathedral predates the Diocese of Manchester (it was built in 1869 as a church, Manchester became a diocese in 1884) and when our diocese was created, St. Joseph's became the cathedral.  The first bishop of Manchester was Bishop Denis Bradley and it was he who invited the Christian Brothers to come to Manchester to staff the new St. Joseph's High School for Boys on Lowell Street, about a 5 minute walk from the cathedral.

Our gathering began at 8:45am with coffee and pastries in the basement of the cathedral.  Our principal Mr. Mailloux '72 welcomed everyone and our former campus minster and current administrator of the cathedral, Fr. Andrew Nelson, offered an opening prayer.  From here, we walked down to the old high school which opened 130 years ago this fall.  That first class had 14 students and there were 5 Christian Brothers who taught there.  The first principal was a Bro. Thomas (I cannot find his last name anywhere) and by all accounts he was an amazing principal and model.  He was only principal for three years as he died of a heart attack.

We didn't go inside the school as it is presently a recovery house so we just gathered on the front lawn and I gave some of the history of the school.  Mr. Mailloux then read an editorial that was in the local paper in 1936 on the occasion of the school's golden jubilee.

After, we walked back to the cathedral and we were greeted by Barb Miles, the archivast for the diocese who gave the teachers a tour.  We also all walked through the Holty Door for the Year of Mercy and then got a history lesson on the stained glass windows, the altar, some of the sacred items that Bishop Bradley had commissioned such as a chalice, and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  Barb told a wonderful story about Cardinal Lacroix '75 who visited the cathedral earlier this summer and showed Barb where he prayed everyday on his way home from Trinity to discern his vocation.

After this wonderful tour, we headed back to Trinity where we had our customary prayer service to commission the teachers to start a new year.  We prayed Psalm 139 monastic style, heard a reading from St. John Baptist de la Salle, and I offered a reflection (see below).  Mr. Mailloux also commissioned the faculty and staff as we recommitted ourselves to our vocations as Catholic school teachers.  We also presented candles to teachers marking significant anniversaries and new staff.  They are:

Celebrating 5-year anniversaries:

Mr. Dave Bielik (who just returned from a stint in the Peace Corps) of our math department
Mrs. Denise Brewitt '90 P'16, '17, '20, our academic coach
Mrs. Deb Verrier of our guidance office
Ms. Lisa Zolkos P'15, '19 of our theology department

Celebrating 10-year anniversary:

Ms. Amber Byron of our social studies department

New employees:

Mr. Bill Nunnally of our theology department (he started last October so he never got a candle)
Mrs. Lisa Twitchell P'18, '20, our main office assistant

The candles for the anniversary folks had the Lasallian quote of "Miracles Happen by Touching Hearts" where the new staff candles said "God Has Chosen You to Do His Work."

Here is my reflection from the prayer service:

About ten days ago, my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Kelly passed away.  I hadn’t seen or thought about Mrs. Kelly in sometime although I did run into her at a boxing match at Suffolk Downs when I was in high school or college and I saw her at a Dunkin Donuts about 15 years ago.  When I saw her at the Dunkin Donuts, I didn’t speak with her even though she kept looking at me as if she knew who I was.  To this day I have no idea why I didn’t go over and say hello and I have always felt guilty about not talking to her.  When I told a classmate this story, he suggested we go to her wake.  The wake was last  week in Everett and I got there a little before my friend Richie.  As I was waiting, a car full of women pulled up and as they got out, I immediately recognized them as teachers from my elementary school.  They haven’t seen me in over 150 pounds ago so I am sure they didn’t recognize me.  But as they started walking up the stairs, their names rolled off my tongues as if I was still in their class:

Hello Mrs. Hendriksen
Hello Mrs. Borgel
Hello Miss Means

Mrs. Hendriksen gave me a hug and I immediately forgave her for giving me a detention for “breaking china” (dropping the top of our desk) and for the 13 I got on one of her science tests!  

As I was driving home, I could not help but think back to my elementary school years and I began listing all of my teachers in my head.  I can remember every single teacher I had as I am sure you can as well.  We don’t always see the impact we make on our students nor do we think about the influence we have over them.  But we can be assured that just as we remember all of our teachers, all of our students remember us.

As St. John Baptist de la Salle points out in today’s reading, we as Catholic school teachers, however, have a responsibility to be more than just remembered by our students.  We are not just teachers of math, science, English, world language, social studies, fine arts, and theology.  Rather, we ambassadors for Jesus Christ and we represent Him for our students.  For many of our students, Trinity High School will be the first and/or the last experience of the Catholic faith.  We have four short years to not just help them get into college...but also into heaven.  Conversely, de la Salle also tells us that our students are our salvation.  That is, it is through our work in Catholic education, in this tiny corner of His vineyard that we find our redemption.  

As we begin anew, and carry on that legacy that began on Lowell Street 130 years ago, let us ask God the Father to bless our work, as we seek to imitate God the Son, all with the help and guidance of God the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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