Dear Friends in Christ:
Back to Ordinary Time…while I love Christmas and all that occurs during the Christmas Season it is good to be back into Ordinary Time. I love Christmas! If you stopped by the rectory at all during Christmas you would have noticed in a small way that I love to decorate the house for Christmas. Over the years I have gathered quite a collection of nativity scenes from throughout the world and a large number of snowmen. In some way I wish the Christmas Season were longer to enjoy the collection I have gathered, but since it is so short I have decided there is no harm in leaving a few nativities up throughout the year to remind us that God loved us so much He sent His only Son into the world to show us the way to the Father! Jesus is Emmanuel, God is with us, and that is something we can celebrate throughout the year not just during the short weeks of the Christmas Season.
I, like so many of you, have experienced the whirlwind of non-stop activity between Thanksgiving and Christmas; so it is good to be back in Ordinary Time! Of course, for us in ministry there is nothing ordinary about any time of any day throughout the year. It is all new, it is all exciting, and it is all intriguing.
The one thing Ordinary Time does for me is to provide me the chance to catch up on projects and day-to-day life before Lent begins! Yes I said it, Lent is not too far away and we are already making plans for our parish journey of Lent. I have said it before, but I say it again, we want to hear from you! Is there a particular ministry you would like the Pastoral Staff to work toward forming? Is there a particular devotion you would like to see us offer? Is there a particular topic you would like covered in an evening Adult Education Talk? Let us know. Write it out and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it in an envelope marked Pastoral Staff in the collection on the weekend. All ideas are possible for consideration.
A reminder that we NEED YOUR HELP to make our Annual School Auction a success…As I mentioned last weekend I am hoping that the parish family will truly come out and support the Annual Auction for our parish school. IT IS the major fundraiser of the year for our school. There are a variety of ways you can help:
1. You can mark your calendars and plan to join us at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville on Friday, March 1st, 2019, for a great night of food and fellowship as well as the chance to win a raffle item, or an auction item.
2. You can place an ad in the evening’s program book or become a sponsor. Ads run anywhere between $50-550 and the sponsorships costs between $500-5,000.
You can donate an item for the silent or live auction, such as sporting event tickets, theatre tickets, bikes, grills, jewelry, televisions or electronics of all kinds, golf foursomes to local golf courses or Country Clubs, overnight stays to a nice place, or any item you think will solicit support for our school.
For more information about the auction or to sponsor us, please visit the school’s website at https://stbridgetschool.ejoinme.org/sbsauction2019
SPEAKING OF OUR AMAZING CATHOLIC SCHOOL I am reminded that next Sunday we celebrate the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. Saint Bridget School will be holding an OPEN HOUSE NEXT SUNDAY from 10AM-1PM. I personally invite every parishioner to come and visit our school during this open house. Our extraordinary and dedicated faculty and staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have and tours will be offered by our current students. Please come and see what Saint Bridget School could offer your child or children. All families in Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish should know that Saint Bridget School is an option for YOU.
In Saint Bridget Parish School, our young people learn that faith in God is at the heart of their total education and has an essential place in their everyday lives. It is of course obvious to all that not all of our Catholic young people have the opportunity to attend a Catholic school, as I myself did not. In fact, the majority of our school-age children attend public schools and a fair number of families choose to educate their children at home. In these cases, they rely on the religious education that is so diligently provided in our parish and in our family homes. The Church’s regard for these students and their families is also clear and unambiguous.
For now, as we soon mark Catholic Schools Week in our parish school, we as a family of faith can only offer our admiration for the many fine teachers, administrators, staff, and benefactors of our parish school. They deserve our thanks for their commitment, and for the many sacrifices they make to teach and form the young people of our parish. And, I must personally express my gratitude to the many parents and families who make it possible for their children to attend Catholic schools. Without the high level of parental involvement that our school enjoys, they could not achieve the success we have seen for so many years.
As I said, and I say each year at this time, I myself am NOT the product of Catholic Schools. BUT I am a strong proponent of Catholic Schools and not just simply because I am a priest. I am a proponent of Catholic Schools because I have witnessed firsthand what makes Catholic Schools, and particularly our own Saint Bridget School, such a wonderful center for faith based learning and academic excellence.
Our parish school is ready and willing to assist ALL parishioners in educating your child or children. Saint Bridget School, which reopened in 1994, offers students a faith-based, challenging curriculum designed to promote academic excellence in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grades 1 through 8. Committed educators guide our students through the day with lessons in faith development, math, language arts, social studies, geography, science, Spanish (grades K-8), music, art, and physical education.
Our curriculum includes the use of state-of-the-art computer and science labs as well as an extensive library. We are thrilled with the presence of three religious sisters in our day-to-day operations with two Sisters from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist on faculty and, of course, Sister Patricia Cigrand, ASCJ, our Pastoral Associate from the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose office is located in the school. In addition, Father O’Neill and I visit classrooms and visit our students as often as we can and we are privileged to celebrate Mass with the entire school community on Fridays at 9a.m.
I believe the academic success, and the personal growth of our students is all accomplished because we as a Catholic School are a family. We are a family of faith, where the students are part of a larger school family; where they are taught the importance of caring for one another, showing respect for one another, and where they are taught to live out Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you.” Nothing gives me greater joy than to see them caring for one another whether it be an older student helping a younger one with their homework in Homework Club, or an older student sitting with our youngest students at weekly Mass and teaching them about Mass. It is truly heartwarming to see the care and concern for one another displayed by our students, our faculty, and all our families.
A question often posed is: “Why should I consider a Catholic school when the public schools offer a great education?” I always begin with the long standing tradition the Catholic Church has in educating our young people to a higher degree of success. St. Bridget School is one of the highest scoring schools within the Archdiocese of Hartford in standardized tests. Catholic schools, and it is true for our parish school, establish a spirit of faith, family, and community in their students. The education our students receive at Saint Bridget School stays with them their entire lives and can be the basis from which they orient themselves with the world. It also encourages them to remain grounded in the Catholic faith while they reach to fulfill their dreams. Our students enter our school to learn, and leave to serve as disciples of Jesus.
What will you find in Saint Bridget School for your child or children?
· Faith Based Learning with a Real World Approach
· Spanish Language from PreK3 to Grade 8
· Advanced Studies and Curriculum Resources
· 1 to 1 iPads in the Middle School and technology in all other grades
· Athletic Fields and a Gymnasium
· Sports Programs including Basketball, Baseball, Cross-Country, Cheerleading, and Soccer
· Air-Conditioning throughout our facility
· Extra-curricular activities such as Robotics Club, LEGO Club, Chess Club, French Club & more
· A Diverse Student Body
· Small Class Sizes with Differentiated Learning at ALL Grade Levels
· Enrichment Programs and Family Events
· Tuition Assistance
· Weekly Mass as a school family and Adoration
I should also note, as I have said in the past, parishes with a school are provided unique opportunities for building up families and in particular for the building up of the parish family that other parishes without schools do not have. I have seen this transpire during the course of my time as Pastor here in Cheshire. It is a cause for encouragement and hope!
I want every family in our parish, with children of school age children, to feel that Saint Bridget School is an option for them. We have an Open House NEXT SUNDAY, January 27th, from 10AM until 1PM. Come and visit our school. I encourage all parents and extended family members to come and see all that Saint Bridget School offers. Hope to see you at the Open House!
As always, remember to pray for our parish families and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.