Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Nov
  • 26

St. Anna Elementary thrives for 60 years

Posted By November 26, 2013 | 1:45 pm | Lead Story #3
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By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

LEOMINSTER – Bishop McManus came to St. Anna Elementary school Nov. 21 to mark the 60th anniversary of its founding.
Seating in front of him were retired Venerini Sisters, some of whom once taught there. They are from an order founded in Italy during the 1600s by Saint Rosa Venerini.
Behind the sisters were rows of students.
The bishop gave them a quick catechism lesson, as he told the children about why they are here. “Each one of us is made in the image of God,” he explained.
“The reason you are here on this earth is to follow God so you can live with him in heaven,” he added.
Bishop McManus noted that Saint Rosa Venerini, canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, was a strong advocate of education because she believed that’s what enabled people to have freedom.
The anniversary Mass was celebrated on the feast of the Presentation, marking the day when Mary was taken to the temple as a young girl. The bishop reminded the students that they were also presented to God on the day of their baptisms.
“Jesus claimed you as his own brother and sister,” he told the children.
St. Anna Principal Margaret Bissonnette, who took over as principal this year, spoke briefly following the Mass.
“We’re celebrating 60 years of pride in Leominster,” she said of the school once staffed by Venerini sisters, some of whom were honored guests at the Mass.
After Mass, Sister Loretta Ciccarelli, MPV, recalled her teaching days. She spent one year at St. Anna, as well as at other schools staffed by Venerini sisters.
In the church hall after Mass, the school community watched a video presentation in which children in each grade thanked the sisters for their service.
Leominster City Councilor Claire Freda said the Catholic schools in Leominster are very engaged with the residents. “They’re a big part of the community,” she said.
Schools will close this year. Printed on the screen, were the encouraging words, “St. Anna has not only endured 60 years. With the grace of God our school has thrived.”
Some who came to the anniversary celebration didn’t have a child, or a grandchild attending the elementary school.
Among them was St. Anna parishioner  Claire Freda, a Leominster City Councilor, said the Catholic schools in Leominster are very engaged with the residents.
“They’re a big part of the community.”
“You can’t bring up a Catholic child just as a Catholic child,” she said, stating that they’re “part of the bigger community.”
“I think the Catholic schools have done a great job teaching that sense (of community),” she added. “I really consider the Catholic schools part of our overall student population.”
Ms. Freda said the city’s public schools are currently at maximum capacity.