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Bishop McManus opens Gardner school with Mass

Posted By September 4, 2014 | 12:41 pm | Lead Story #1
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By Patricia O’Connell

GARDNER – The first day of school at Holy Family Academy began at 9 a.m. Aug. 28 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop McManus in Holy Rosary Church.
Holy Family is a result of the merger of  Holy Rosary and Sacred Heart elementary schools, after it was decided one school would better serve the needs of Catholic students in Gardner.
The church was filled with parents, children and teachers as Bishop McManus delivered his homily.
He told the crowd that everyone was “passing on the faith and building up the life of the Church in an excellent and outstanding way.”
“What’s the name of this academy?” Bishop McManus asked a group of students sitting in the front pews, just to his right.
“Holy Family,” one of them answered.
“Who makes up the Holy Family?,” Bishop McManus wanted to know.
“Excellent,” he responded, when someone answered Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Bishop McManus then talked about our ultimate goal, of getting to Heaven. “God hopes and expects each one of us to be a saint,” he added.
Bishop McManus then returned to the subject of the Holy Family. “We also refer to the Church as the family of God,” he said to the students, explaining that by Baptism, we become part of the family of God.
“We beg the Lord to be present to us, to fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving,” he said.
Then, he spoke of the necessity of transmitting the faith.
“Jesus is the reason for this school,” he said. “That’s why Catholic schools exist, to bring people to Jesus. We want to bring Jesus to others.”
Following the Mass, the bishop led a procession of students in grades 5-8 from Holy Rosary church to the Sacred Heart campus, where everyone in those grades now attends classes. Upon his arrival, he blessed the newly named facility.
A group of parents waited at the Sacred Heart campus for the procession to arrive. Debbie Robillard has two children who attend the school, a son in the fifth grade and a daughter in the eighth grade. She noted that if the schools hadn’t merged her daughter, right now, would still be at the Holy Rosary building.
She said she was neither happy nor sad about the merger. “I’m indifferent,” she said. “It’s nervousness as a parent, she added, explaining that her daughter has been at Holy Rosary since kindergarten, so this will be a different experience. Students in her daughter’s class, she explained, are being integrated from two separate school communities.
However, she expressed great confidence in the principal and vice principle. “I think we’ve got a great administrative team to pull us forward,” she stated.
Kelly Agnelli has a son who now attends the Sacred Heart campus, after beginning his education at Holy Rosary.
“We did think that we would be there for many more years,” she said, noting that she served on the school board while the decision was made to merge the schools.
“We have a very positive outlook on what this will do for Catholic education in Gardner,” she said. “It’s going to be a good thing.”