Dear Friends in Christ:
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK has arrived…each year during the month of January and in particular this last week of the month across the nation we celebrate Catholic Schools. How blessed we are here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish to have a parish school as part of the vibrancy and life of our parish family. I truly believe that parishes with a school are blessed in a particular way as a school provides unique opportunities for building up families and the parish family that parishes without a school do not have. I have seen this firsthand throughout my priesthood and, most especially, during my time here.
What a treasure we have here in our parish! Let’s make sure it is NOT a hidden one. When I first came to town some referred to the school as a hidden treasure. But we do not want the school to be hidden. Recently, while out to eat, I was soliciting for our annual school auction. While speaking to the owner of the restaurant someone seated near me asked where is this school? I said it is on the property of Saint Bridget Church near Rite Aid. He lived in town for over ten years but he never knew there was a school here. Obviously he was not a Catholic. This encounter provided me the chance to speak about our school and proudly share with him all that the school offers to our students and the many ways in which our students reach out to the wider community. At the end of our conversation, he said “I cannot believe I never knew there was a school there when you all do so much for others.” This was another sign to me of our need to speak about our parish school every opportunity we have.
What makes me most proud about our parish school is that our young people learn daily 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 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, at times making sacrifices, 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.
Though NOT a product of Catholic Schools myself, 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, 25 YEARS AGO this school year, 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 PreK-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: Sister Francesca and Sister Jeanne d’Arc, 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 Federico 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 EVERY Friday at 9 AM.
I believe the academic success and the personal growth of our students is 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 the after school program, 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. Saint 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.
Catholic schools expect and guide their students to become successful citizens by
encouraging them to develop their God-given potential and use the talents God has blessed them with to further the building of their character. The institution of faith that our school and a Catholic education are built upon encourages the students to remain grounded in the Catholic faith while they reach to fulfill their dreams. From this strong foundation, we build our students’ character, their understanding of the world around them, and a strong sense of faith while we model for them how to see the needs of the less fortunate and motivate them to respond to those needs.
In recent years we have heard a lot about Common Core State Standards, and we have had many parents come to our doors with questions and concerns regarding the Common Core State Standards. I want to assure those with questions that Saint Bridget School, in keeping with the position of the Archdiocese of Hartford, does not adopt or follow those standards, we do not stop at minimum expectations for our students.
We are charged with exceeding national standards and so continue to implement curriculum that provides a challenging course, grounded in basic skills necessary for students to develop foundational skills that lead to higher, more complex thinking skills, rooted in Gospel values, and integrating Catholic social teaching across all disciplines, ensuring the development of the whole child. Students graduating from Saint Bridget School exceed state and national benchmarks, evidenced by our exemplary standardized test scores and high performance on high school placement exams. Most importantly, we truly educate the whole child: academically, socially, and spiritually.
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
· Smart Boards, 1 to 1 Chromebooks in the Middle School, iPads and other technology in all other grades
· Athletic Fields and a Gymnasium
· Sports Programs including Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Cross-Country, Cheerleading, and Soccer
· Air-Conditioning throughout our facility
· Extra-curricular activities such as Robotics Club, LEGO 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 want every family, with school age children, in our parish to feel that Saint Bridget School is an option for them. We have an Open House TODAY, January 26, from 10AM until 1pm. This is a great opportunity for you to come and visit our school. I encourage all parents and extended family members to come and see all that Saint Bridget School offers. 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. I hope to see you at the Open House!
Speaking of the School and our 25th Anniversary Year, I want to remind ALL of you that we are having our Annual School Auction and WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Saint Bridget School Home and School Association is gearing up for the annual Auction with this year’s theme Country and Cocktails! This is the major fundraiser of the year for our school.
WE NEED YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT!
We all need to come together and support our parish school and the Annual Auction. Ways you can help:
1. You can mark your calendars and plan to join us at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville on Friday, February 21st, 2020, 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 cost between $500-5,000.
3. 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.
PLEASE help us make this year’s Annual Auction a SUCCESS. It is the 25th year since the reopening of our parish school and helping to make this year’s auction a success will be a great way to celebrate these past years and prepare for a bright future. For more information about the auction or to sponsor us, please visit the school’s website at https://stbridgetschool.ejoinme.org/sbsauction2020.
Last Saturday, Father Federico was able to visit the men from our parish family who were on retreat. Each year we, as your parish priests, make it a priority that one of us get to the retreat that our parish men and women attend, if possible, depending on funerals, weddings, and other commitments. This past Saturday Father Federico was pleased to join the men of our parish at lunch during their retreat and hear how much they were enjoying a little time away for spiritual refreshment and renewal. There is still to come in 2020 another weekend for the men of our parish in early May and a weekend for the women of our parish in mid-March. Would you consider joining them? Details will be in future bulletins.
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.