Wakefield Area News
By Mary V. Lauro
BRONX, NEW YORK, October 10- Hey! According to legend, the devil was once an angel too. Please bear that in mind as we praise 300 boys and girls who walked from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Elementary School on Baychester Avenue to St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church on E. 236th Street, a distance of 7 or 8 blocks. They walked quietly and swiftly, their uniforms accentuating their orderliness. It is true they were accompanied by some teachers, assistants and police, but their brown and black faces shone with purpose. They knew that something important, perhaps historic was going to take place. These mostly non-Catholic children were going to meet Cardinal Dolan.
Cardinal Dolan had come to St. Frances of Rome (SFR) to inaugurate the reopening of its school building on Barnes Avenue as annex to St. Francis of Assisi. The Barnes Avenue School had been closed since 2008. The annex will be used for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children.
The new facility for preschoolers will be known as the Catherine Corry Early Childhood Academy. It is named in honor of the mother of Rev. Francis J. Corry, the pastor of SFR and administrator of the churches of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony in Wakefield. The three parishes are collectively known as the Catholic Churches of Wakefield.
Cardinal Dolan is a special person. It is always a delight to be in his presence. His homilies are clear and concise. One is struck not by showmanship or pageantry but by an abiding humility which defines him. Nonetheless, with all due deference, our column is not about him but about the well behaved students that sat through the mass without a single sigh of boredom, hands clasped and bright eyes following the action on the altar.
The principal of this amazing school and its students is Mary Jane Helmrich. She said her classes usually hold 25 to 30 students, sometimes more. We mention this because our newspapers are full of reports regarding problems encountered in public schools from teacher inadequacy to student failures. More problematic is the lack of civility found between teachers and students as well as between the students themselves.
While the problems in our Public Schools are various and many, some are perfectly obvious to the layman. They are like a childhood disease which, unfortunately, sometimes persists into adulthood. They are lack of respect for others and lack of civility. It is these two elements of social order that are inculcated in a Catholic School education from Pre-K to graduation. It begins with dressing uniformly. Time is not spent on observing who wears what. Nor is time spent on imitating what is seen on TV. A school uniform emphasizes the principle of equality as does, indoctrination in civility.
As the body needs food, the brain needs to know. Remember that other myth: God forbid Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge. They ate one apple and haven't stopped chewing since. The brain loves to learn. Once the distractions are removed, children will learn.
Also necessary are caring parents. It is not cheap to send one's child to Catholic School. It is amazing how many non-Catholics choose to do so at great personal sacrifice. It is enormously sad that they must do so when they and we pay our share of taxes for education. It is sadden still for the children who do not receive a fundamentally sound education. What is the point of public education if it cannot vie with Catholic and private education?
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