While it can be asserted that the Church operates according to the liturgical calendar, and there is plenty of evidence of that around here, it can also be observed that the stronger schedule and dominant calendar around this campus is the academic calendar.
That is the calendar that dictates when our school has kids in it, six days a week: Monday through Friday for our parish school, and Sunday for our religious education programs. The teachers and staff are there early as well as late, and parents are coming and going in their vehicles across the pavements, often with alacrity. With all this curricular activity comes the extracurricular activity on our sports field, afternoon, evening, and weekend, also generating its own mini-beltway-ballet of SUVs around the rectory drive. Looking back at the fading days of summer, it is tempting to ask Wasn’t all that quiet nice? But the shrieks and giggles of learning and playing small people is a delightful din.
And so it began this past week with all due solemnity on the playground lot by the school, as the kids lined up with their classmates for their teachers, and their moms and dads and younger brothers and sisters looked on all about. Welcomes were given, prayers and blessings bestowed, and allegiance pledged. Then by grade they filed, and bounced, and chattered, into their new classrooms to begin the endeavor that we have all come to appreciate more over the past eighteen months.
Meanwhile, as you have gathered by now, students are in the rectory again too. Having bid farewell both to our previous student, Father Berhorst, and our parochial vicar, Father Russo, we rejoiced this week to welcome two new student priests. Two weeks ago, I told you about Father Santandreu, of Buffalo; today’s news is that Father Michael Novajosky of the Diocese of Bridgeport moved in last Saturday. He even offered one of the parish Masses the next day, Sunday. Now that’s coming up to speed quickly!
Like Fr. Santandreu, Fr. Novajosky is beginning the serious work of obtaining a degree in Canon Law. As bishops occasionally do, his bishop informed him fairly late in the summer of this plan, so his application and other logistics were prepared late in the game. By the time he was ready to find a residence, he was almost as pleased to find he could live here with us as I was to learn that he would be coming. Please extend a hearty Saint Bernadette welcome to him, while you continue to do so, warmly, to Fr. Santandreu. All indications are that it will be a cordial and vigorous rectory community.
Over the past fifteen years, we have had at least one student priest in residence here all but one year, and two from 2013 to 2015 when we were without a parochial vicar as we are now, plus some summertime students. I have found this most helpful to me personally, not only because of their help with priestly work such Masses and confessions, but also because of the good company they provide, and the contribution they make to the intellectual life of the rectory. They are studying intensely a subject important to the life of the Church, and thinking about it seriously. This spills over into our conversations, and I wind up learning from them, and along with them. Similarly, the whole parish benefits, sharing the fruits of their academic studies as well as their experiences in parishes of other dioceses.
Faith seeks understanding, as Saint Augustine asserted. This is what our minds are for. So as you see the kids coming and going, and encourage the ones around you to make the best of their opportunities to learn, heed your own advice. Remember that we all are in a position to grow in our knowledge and love of God through study and intellectual engagement with the intellectual heritage of the Church.
So, here it is Labor Day, and once again, in the school, in the rectory, and in the pews, the students are on campus.