It is very easy to see miracles and relegate them to commonplace status. It is the unfortunate and frustrating bend of the human race to devour the kindness, wonder, mercy, beauty and grace that are daily delivered by the Finger of God, and neglect to return thanks to Him. The story that Luke tells of Jesus healing the 10 lepers is a case in point. 10 men healed of a horrendous, disfiguring disease, and only one coming back to the Healer and saying thank you. May we all find it within ourselves to have humble and thankful hearts, and recognize that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
I would like to take a moment to give thanks and testify to the absolutely astonishing and wonderful experience I have had over the last five years. As many of you know, Julie and I decided in 2004 to send our three oldest children to Immaculate Heart Central. This is the Roman Catholic school here in the Watertown area. This decision was not made quickly, lightly, easily or prayerlessly. We labored over it, and enrolled our children at IHC with no guarantee of success. This may sound strange to you, but many voices whispered that we were making a horrible mistake. “What’s the matter with you Brennans? Don’t you know that Protestants shouldn’t attend a Catholic school?” Needless to say, we knew we were taking the path less travelled. I am not by nature a pioneer, but God has a way of forcing us Bilbo Baggins-types into adventures that we never would have chosen for ourselves. And the results are glorious when it is His Will.
Over the past five years, my children have driven to IHC every day. They have been challenged academically every day. They have been prayed for every day. They have eaten in the cafeteria every day. They have made friends, laughed, and sang. They have wept as they recalled the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ through Mystery Players. They have been asked to provide the music for Mass and many other events. They have gone to prom and homecoming, and football games and Right to Life events and raised money for Darfur. They have been challenged mentally, spiritually, socially, and physically. I cannot do justice to the experience by merely listing the things that have happened. This has been a whole life experience for our entire family, and we are better for it.
I have saved the best for last. The most unexpected part of the IHC experience was the deep and transforming connection we have made with the Catholic community. I have developed a very real and precious friendship with Father Mark Reilly, pastor of IHC. He has been a true pastor, friend, mentor and teacher to me, my wife and my children. He has visited our home, prayed for me when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, encouraged us, and been avaialable for counsel and conversation. He is a wonderful brother in Christ, and man of God. He has no idea of the impact he is making on many lives. Pat Fontana Sr. runs the school with unmatched competence, dedication, and love. His passion for providing an excellent Catholic/Christian education is seen in every aspect of the school. I am impressed by his professionalism at every level. He is one of those rare souls you meet that is operating at peak capacity in his calling. He is like a Swiss watch as Principal of IHC. Then there are the teachers; Pat Fontana Jr. – the best math teacher on the planet, Miss Barden – made my daughters LOVE French, Mrs. Percy made Katie want to be an English teacher, Mrs. Biedekap, Mr. Burns, and everyone else. They have had a wonderful effect on my children. Mr Delaney has earned my respect and gratitude for his concern and professionalism as we transitioned to IHC in August of 2004. His input and assistance were of great and lasting value. He went above and beyond what we expected. He made our family a priority when he was also managing the guidance and coaching responsibilities at IHC. Simply amazing. Lastly and perhaps most importantly The IHC community of families has accepted us, and made us one of their own. The Elliotts, LaFaves, Piarullis, Grants, and other families have opened their hearts to us and ours to them. We are profoundly grateful for the new relationships that we have found at IHC.
I am already at 854 words, and I am nowhere near expressing what I really feel, but I must summarize lest this entry go Tolstoy. Our time at IHC has brought us closer to the Catholic community, and has perhaps helped to bridge the gap between the Protestant and Catholic communities. I know that the Brennans are richer for having spent the last five years at IHC. It is my hope that we have been able to enrich the IHC community in some small way as well. To all my readers: The Body of Christ is richer, more effective, more powerful, more persuasive, smarter, and more compassionate when we open our hearts to others of different traditions of Faith.