MANCHESTER – When groundbreaking for a new science and technology building at East Catholic High School happened to fall on the feast of Saint Augustine, the synchronicity did not escape Archbishop Leonard P. Blair.
“What does Saint Augustine have to say to us today?’ Archbishop Blair asked during his homily at a Mass he celebrated at the school before the ceremony Aug. 28, the first day of classes after summer break. “Well, on the occasion of the groundbreaking of the new math, science and technology building, Augustine’s intellectual and spiritual development can be a model for us today about the relationship of faith and reason,” he said.
Sadly, many people put aside their faith and embrace science as the source of all knowledge, he said. Saint Augustine embraced both. “Believing paves the way to crossing the threshold of truth....A believer scrutinizes the truth to be able to find knowledge and belief,” the archbishop said, citing Saint Augustine.
“Who we are and what we have is not the result of blind chance,” the archbishop said. “It’s not a bunch of cosmic dust of some unknown origin that has created us without meaning. Rather, what we are and what we do has been entrusted to us by the Master, who says that from one whom much has been given, much will be expected in return.”
A successful “Soaring to New Heights” campaign, begun four years ago during the school’s 50th anniversary, raised $6 million, $4 million of which covered the cost of the new 14,000-square-foot building, the installation of energy-efficient windows throughout the school and the renovation of the former science wing for a state-of-the-art fine arts department.
Jason S. Hartling, principal and chief administrator, said he hopes that the remaining $2 million will go toward a new athletic field and a six-lane running track.
At the close of the Mass, Dale R. Hoyt, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, told the nearly 700 gathered students, “As donors are investing in education, we are asking you, the students, to build a bright future – a future that places God first above all things; a future that builds on the life and dignity of the human person; a future that cares for all of God’s creation; a future that builds a more just society and calls you and me to live in holiness amid the challenges of modern times.”
Mr. Hartling told the Transcript, “This is the first time we’ve added academic space since the school was built in 1961. I think it’s a great reflection of the strength in the institution and our church’s commitment to Catholic education.”
The new wing is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016, he said. “We will be putting in modern multidisciplinary science labs, adding additional math classrooms and computer labs; and it also for the first time really provides a significant space for our fine arts program” by vacating space in the existing building, he said.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr. Hartling told the students, “Your big assignment tonight is to thank your mom and dad for making this possible.”
As he prepared to bless the site of the new building, Archbishop Blair said, “East Catholic is alive and well because it’s growing and continues to grow with the support of so many people.”
He then joined nine other men and women who each turned over a ceremonial shovelful of dirt, signifying the official start of the building project. Joining him were:
Dr. Hoyt; Mr. Hartling; Father Andrew Mai, school chaplain; Dominic Fulco, ’77, campaign chair; Ted Horan, school board chair; Bill Gorra, ’73, the campaign’s first donor, representing leadership gift-giving; Sister Mary Rose Crowley, former vice principal, representing the Sisters of Notre Dame da Namur, the first teachers at the school, who still have a presence at East Catholic; Zachery Hess, ’16, student government president; and Tim Devanney, ’00, deputy mayor of Manchester.