August 19, 2011 – A Walk Down Memory Lane

Those of us who surf the internet know that there are always new things coming out to explore and try out.  Lately I have noticed a new trend on Facebook in which people are starting groups in order for people to post their memories.  For example, there is a group called “You know you are from Chester when …” and people who live in town or used to live here have been posting some of their memories and even old pictures.  I have also joined a group called “I attended Gibault High School and I remember …”.  We have been posting memories of teachers and traditions that have certainly jarred a lot of memories.  As school has now started again and I have been reading these postings, I started to think back to my days at St. Mary’s.  So I thought I would share a few of my memories with you – maybe it will jar your memories of yesteryear (and maybe I can think of enough memories for this blog because nothing else is coming to my mind!).

I can remember first grade when we went on a trip to Nazareth – that’s right, Nazareth.  Of course, it was an imaginary trip but as a first grader, it was still an adventure, and we had tales of everything we did with Jesus when we “returned.”  And I believe we all received “pills”, which is what Sr. Mary Edna called the hard candy she gave us.  I also remember a very important life lesson learned in first grade.  Wanting to prove myself as the “angel” of the class, one time when Sr. Mary Edna left the room I noticed someone got out of their chair to look out the window.  I thought that I must report this to her on her return and get on her good side, so I did.  My reward was the class singing the “tattle-tale” song to me and one of several encounters with Sammy the yardstick.  Lesson learned.

I can remember that at times the punishment we received actually worked to our advantage.  I believe it was 4th grade, and the old water tower which was by the VFW was being torn down.  No offense to Mrs. Kerkhover, but several of us found what was going on outside to be a little more interesting than what was going on inside.  So those of us who were gawking out the window were told to stay inside for recess and watch the workers tear the tower down.  I didn’t say anything, but I thought to myself – COOL!.  We can always play keep away another day.

Moving on to 5th grade meant moving upstairs and having different teachers for different subjects.  Moving to the upper grades also meant that once a week or so Fr. Kribs would pop into your religion class for a lesson.  What would the lesson be about?  One never knew.  One time the lesson was about how much money the church would save by no longer providing copies of “Our Sunday Visitor” because the change people left in the box was not enough to cover the cost.  Hmmm … a religion and accounting lesson all in one.  It certainly was a wake-up call to the fact that there’s much more to being a Pastor than what we see for an hour or so on the weekends.

I think it was in the upper grades that my love of electronic gadgets began.  Of course in the early 80’s, the latest gadgets were the little hand-held Mattel electronic games that had the little dots as players, and it was a common practice to swap games for a night.  I believe I was in 8th grade when the school got its very first computer – an Apple PC.  I don’t really remember doing anything constructive on it, but I do remember playing Oregon Trail, and thus my road to technological addiction began.

I could go on and on with the memories.  In a world where we are always saying how fast time goes, and where we are always worried about what’s next, I think it is beneficial for us to take a look back at the good and not so good times we have experienced and see how those memories have shaped the person we have become.  Maybe reading a few of my memories jarred a few of your own and allowed you to roam back in time.  Do you have a memory that really stands out about St. Mary’s School or the school you attended?  Leave a comment and share it with us.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a process that will be beginning in which each parish in our Diocese will be asked to look at its current viability and to report the findings back to the Diocese.  These findings will be used as a basis for decisions concerning the possibility of combining and perhaps closing parishes that are found to no longer be viable.  Parish schools will also be looked at to determine whether it is feasible to keep them open while maintaining the other ministries a parish is expected to provide.  The current issue of the Messenger contains a Pastoral Letter from the Bishop about this process which has been titled a “Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring”.  There is also a summary of the plan and how this process will play out.  If you do not receive the Messenger, you can log on to www.diobelle.org and find the documents there.  Again, we ask for your prayers and cooperation as we begin this process.

My gut feeling at this point is that our parish is not in danger of closure.  We have about 400 families and despite the tough economic times we have been experiencing, the generosity of our parishioners has sustained our mission.  Of course, the reality of the situation is that a great deal of our resources are used to maintain our school.  This is something that concerns the Bishop as he feels that if too many resources are directed toward the school, the other parish ministries suffer.  I personally feel we have a viable school.  Our enrollment has been increasing and we are the only Catholic school in a fairly wide radius.  Hopefully this is what will be considered and we will have a school for many years to come.

I’m not trying to scare anyone, and again not a single decision has been made about any parish or school.  I tell you this in hope that you will cooperate with us during this process, and that you will continue to spread the good news of St. Mary’s!  We have much to be proud of, and this is what we want to show everyone!

Have a great week.  Peace.

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