President John F. Kennedy once said that “change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Saint Brendan School resumed classes two weeks ago, and hundreds of parents filed into the church for Back-to-School Night. Change was in the air with a new year and a new school principal, Ms. Dianne Lakatta, who joined Saint Brendan on August 1.
“After twelve years of stability at the helm of the school, I think parents may have felt a bit uneasy about the future,” Father Roger said. “I know that when they really get to know Ms. Lakatta they will see that she is passionate about her Catholic faith and will be a strong leader for our school, while also demonstrating a loving, tender, and caring disposition towards students, parents, faculty, and staff.”
The parish’s Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation kicked off the evening by leading the assembly in prayer, asking for God’s blessing over the new school year. Father Roger discussed the pastoral vision for the both the church and school in the coming year. “Our parish theme this year is Pray Together. Stay Together,” said Father Roger. “So, all of our big events this year are designed to breathe new life into your relationship with God. We’ll hear from world-class speakers at fun, all-parish events as part of our Spiritual Happy Hour program. We’re going to discover new ways to pray through our innovative Sunday morning Small Bytes Program. We’ll also have many opportunities to join a small group and to do life together with people in your own circumstances.”
As part of the parish’s emphasis on prayer this year for both the church and the school, Saint Brendan School students will have the opportunity to participate in an innovative new program at Sunday Masses. “When it comes to religion,” Father Roger wrote in a three-page letter to parents describing the new initiative, “students learn from a variety of experiences such as classroom interaction, service projects for the poor, as well as regular participation in the liturgy of the Church, especially the Sunday worship of the parish community.” Children of all grades will be able to serve in different capacities according to their grade level, including as gift bearers, greeters, ushers, members of the children’s choir, lectors, altar servers, and even Eucharistic ministers after their Confirmation in the eighth grade. “We’re asking for 100 percent participation in this pilot program,” said Father Roger. “We know there may be a few bumps in the road, including scheduling issues, but we’re giving this a test run for a year and then will evaluate to see how it went.”
Father Roger then introduced the new principal to the parents. Ms. Lakatta introduced the new staff and gave a presentation on the new school year. The evening concluded with the parish theme song this year composed by the Director of Music Ministry, Mario Balestrieri, and former local parishioner, Joanna Collins. “I am so excited about this new year,” said Father Roger. “Change can sometimes be difficult, but, as Gandhi once said, ‘you must be the change you wish to see in the world.’”
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