Borrowing from an old 50’s commercial message played this time of year that was universally despised by neighborhood kids as the signal to the end of a long lazy summertime and the imminent start of another ominous school year- “School bells ring and children sing ‘It’s back to Robert Hall again.’”
That attitude has changed lately with so many students surprisingly anxious to return to school as a relief from the isolation and homeschool requirements brought on by this past year’s pandemic.
The return to classes after a year, however, left a lot of work to be done in preparing for the first day of school this past Monday.
And true to the motto- “Where there’s a need, there’s a Knight”, the Knights of Columbus, Pavia Council 48 in Bethel, were on hand to help out.
When most of the country was sweltering under a triple-digit heat index, the Pavia Knights set out to resurface the playground of St Mary’s School, refurbish the sports equipment, and replace the building’s fluorescent lights in preparation of the start of the school year this past Monday.
Since their formation over 100 years ago, the Knights of Columbus have strived to improve conditions of widows and orphans, the sick and needy of their communities, and the education of their youth.
At that time, the virtually unnoticed parochial school system was in its infancy, founded in 1810 by Elizabeth Ann Seton and members of her newly formed American Branch of the Daughters of Charity in an obscure farmhouse in rural Maryland.
Over the years, waves of penniless Immigrant Catholics found a welcome not only in parish churches but in these newly established parish schools.
Noting the impact of these schools, a contemporary Mormon teacher commented that “The title of the story of Catholic schools should be called ‘Never has so much been done with so little.’”
Since it’s start, our parochial schools have seen both success and failure, but have persevered.
At the start of this pandemic-ridden school year, while many Catholic Schools across the country were forced to close, there was a resurgence of enrollments out of public schools, as Catholic-school administrators faced the shutdowns face on. And as many of our front-line hospital professionals and first responders have been recognized for their tenacity in these difficult times, it is time to add our Catholic school teachers to our honor roll of unsung heroes.
The Knights stand fully committed to maintaining an academically excellent and faith-filled education to all who desire it, and in support of the mission of the Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, in his Strategic Plan “to Make All Things New” for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“Our hope,” Bishop Caggiano has stated, “is that we can remove much of the burden our school leaders shoulder so that they can focus on nurturing an ever improving faith-filled academic program.”
And removing burdens is what the Knights of Columbus do best.
Honing the skills learned during this past year’s lingering pandemic, the Pavia Knights have become accustomed to adjust to the adversity of these changing times in their continued support and assistance to their parishes and schools by learning to do what they can and not what they can’t.
By Tom Ryan, Grand Knight Pavia 48 Bethel/Redding