SOUTHINGTON – Calling it “a model for our church and our communities in meeting the challenges of today,” Archbishop Leonard P. Blair blessed Southington Catholic School Aug. 23 and cut the ceremonial ribbon that welcomed a gathering of more than 150 students, family, educators, clergy and friends to the newly formed school.
The event celebrated the merger of St. Dominic School, formerly located at 1050 Flanders Rd.; and St. Thomas School, 133 Bristol St., which now serves as the new Southington Catholic School.
Mary Pat Wirkus, who was principal of St. Thomas School, will be principal of the new institution, which will be under the joint auspices of St. Thomas and St. Dominic parishes.
“It is no secret. Parishioners will know that our archdiocese is embarking on something that most other dioceses have done as well, and that is pastoral planning for a more vibrant future, repositioning ourselves for a more vibrant future in the face of the realities of today,” Archbishop Blair said.
He praised the clergy, parents, students, school boards, educators and administrators for resisting the “human inclination ... to cling to what we are accustomed to” and working hard to make the new school a reality.
Addressing the prekindergarten through eighth grade students, he said, “God has given you a wonderful gift in this school.” He added, “I can tell you this, that in years to come, once you graduate, you will always have a wonderful and happy memory of being in this Catholic school; and of equal importance, you will go forward in life well-equipped to meet the challenges of loving God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.”
Dr. Dale R. Hoyt, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese, told the students that while they are at Southington Catholic, they will “get excited about the Lord and get to know the Lord. And second of all, you’re going to have a great education in all the different subjects. ... And third, you’re going to have a lot of friends. That’s important because this is a community school.”
Father Ronald P. May, pastor of St. Dominic Parish, said, “We need to be glad and rejoice that this day has come. ... Thanks and praise to God for all the hard work that everyone’s done.”
Father Nicholas P. Melo, pastor of St. Thomas Parish, said, “Those that founded St. Thomas and St. Dominic schools had great visions for being able to provide Catholic education for our town, our young people, and we continue those dreams here at Southington Catholic by working together to continue to provide for our young people.”
Mrs. Wirkus said it took creative minds to lay the groundwork for the new school, compassionate hearts to honor the traditions of both schools, and courage to bring the new school into being. All this, she said, is embodied in the school’s motto: “Creative minds, compassionate hearts, courageous acts.”
Donna Finn, school board chair, said, “This September we do more than start a school year – we start a new school. We are the founding students, family, administration, faculty and staff and board. There is no ‘How did we do this last year?’ Now we get to say, ‘Who and what do we want to be? What are our dreams for our children’s education, for the school?’” She urged everyone to “believe in the value of this dream, ... participate in the journey, be part of developing the itinerary” of the trip toward a better community.
Moments before enlisting students’ help in wielding the ribbon-cutting scissors, Archbishop Blair asked the Lord’s blessing upon the new school. “We dedicate Southington Catholic School to the education of youth, to the progress of the sciences and to learning,” he said.
Southington Catholic School will have an enrollment of about 155 students, according to Mary K. Alexander, director of advancement. For more information, call 860-628-2485 or go to www.southingtoncatholicschool.org.