Callista Bochicchio and Nicolas Zawilinski, first graders at St. Matthew School in Forestville, show off the school mascots they created at "Bulldog Mania" on Oct. 21 at the school.
HARTFORD – St. Matthew School celebrated its 50 years of providing faith-filled, quality education with an anniversary Mass on Oct. 23.
The Mass was the highlight of a series of activities that the school has planned. Sister Christina Joseph Dolan, principal, said the milestone anniversary is being celebrated in many spiritual, educational and fun ways. Sister Christina is a member of the Sisters, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the order that has guided the school with other faculty since 1961.
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Msgr. Thomas M. Ginty, pastor of St. Matthew, concelebrated.
Many past and present faculty members and alumni of the school participated in the anniversary Mass.
Maureen Howley, who has taught at the school for 35 years and was a member of its class of 1967, provided the first reading. Jeffrey Badall, a 1982 graduate, whose daughter is a sixth grader at the school and whose eldest daughter graduated last year, read the intercessions. The gift bearers were two former principals of the school: Sister Ann Marie Burton and Sister Beverly Pellegrino. Members of the graduating class of 2011 were the altar servers.
"St. Matthew School holds special meaning to all of these people, and it is magnificent that past, present and future generations [would] come together in our church to celebrate this milestone anniversary," said Msgr. Ginty.
After the Mass, there was a reception, where there was a display of photographs, yearbooks and other materials that took families on a trip down memory lane. They also had the opportunity to buy ceramic memory tiles that will be inscribed with messages of the buyers’ choice.
Those tiles and others, some decorated with drawings by current students, will be used to decorate certain walls of the school, Sister Christina said.
The students’ artwork for the tiles and photos also were on display at the reception.
Other festivities in honor of the anniversary will include an All Saints Day prayer service provided by the first grade on Nov. 2. Each student will choose a saint to study, dress like him or her and march in a parade.
"They get their parents and siblings involved with the preparation, and it’s a great spiritual and educational experience for everyone," said Msgr. Ginty.
Also as part of the anniversary celebration, students participated in "Bulldog Mania" on Oct. 21, when they made stuffed replicas of the school mascot. Each bulldog wore a royal blue T-shirt printed with SMS 50 on the front.
"The enthusiasm over the anniversary is palpable," said Msgr. Ginty. "This is sure to be a very exciting year."
Looking ahead, the school is organizing an Anniversary Gala on March 3 at the Aqua Turf in Southington. Two Chevy Malibu Cruisers will be raffled off. And in June, a Hawaiian luau is being planned at the school for students, families, alumni and parishioners.
"It delights my heart to be part of this momentous anniversary, which has been in the planning stages for two years," said Sister Christina. "We believe that Jesus is the center, and Mary our, Blessed Mother, is our model. We strive each day to leave this wonderful legacy to the next generation."
Information about the anniversary events is available online at www.stmatthewschool.com.