Some very unusual times are upon us. COVID-19 and its resounding impact around the globe leave so many of us shaking our heads in bewilderment over the events of the past several months.
How could this be happening? What’s on the horizon? And for the love of all that’s sacred and holy, what does this say about the start of a brand new decade?
Welcome to 2020: Warner Bros. meets Wes Craven in a harrowing dream sequence of mortal combat and human vulnerability.
In such troubling times, some of us might meditate or find our center in ancient medicine. Some might reach for wine and spirits. Some might seek therapy. Maybe we journal. Maybe we caffeinate. Maybe we climb mountains. No matter what your plan of refuge, I think it’s fair to say that we have a number of choices.
At the heart of these choices is the comfort that each decision brings us. We can find peace in a disciplined meditation practice. We can experience a level of relaxation when we pop the cork on a bottle of red. We can find our courage at the edge of a summit.
In the midst of polarizing political rhetoric, in the midst of tragic disregard for human rights, and in the midst of a grave societal disconnect between what’s permissible versus what’s honorable, we have choices.
We have a choice…
To support our community. To care for our loved ones. To check on our neighbors. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless.
In the midst of viral-this and virtual-that, we have a choice…
To set an example for generations to come, to prepare them in unprecedented ways. To arm our children with the smartest weapon available in a world that so often tests our moral code.
We have the choice of Catholic education.
In my hometown of New Castle, Pa., we have the one remaining Catholic school in all of Lawrence County. It began in 1908 as St. Vitus School, a parochial school under the tutelage of then-Franciscan nuns and with the strong backing of the local Catholic community spread across multiple neighborhood churches.
Over the course of many decades, the school succeeded and it struggled; then, ultimately, it faced its own mortality. It took the fortitude of faculty and staff, parents and alumni to launch a campaign to keep the school on track.
Thanks to all those who made the choice to fight for it, St. Vitus School is the little engine that could, and the little engine that is still chugging mightily.
When Father Joseph McCaffrey arrived in New Castle to assume responsibility for our seven parishes and their eventual merger, it seemed he was also tasked with caring for our little school, for our little engine that needed a bit more steam once again to stay powered in our community. Thanks to Fr. McCaffrey, St. Vitus School is the little engine that could, and the little engine that is still chugging mightily.
Today, the school has a new leader; a chaplain; tech-savvy teachers filled with passion and preparedness; an advisory council; a solid mission; a band of loyal friends; and a whole new identity.
Established in July 2020, the school is now known as Holy Spirit Academy—home of the Eagles, taking flight, bold in the spirit.
Not only does this academy deliver superior academics, it sets students on an upstanding path through spiritual nourishment and ethical guidelines to follow in years to come.
Not only does this academy prioritize the attention it gives to students in the learning space, it works extra hard to assure the safety of all students, from protections around Covid to the security found in the love of Jesus and his teachings.
Not only does this academy focus on a curriculum that introduces science, technology, engineering, and math, it offers an enriching student life experience with special programs, hands-on activities, field trips, guest speakers, art and music opportunities, and a variety of athletics.
Holy Spirit Academy is a choice that provides choices.
It is an investment in our children and our community at large that yields the best results in these far-from-the-best of times.
Holy Spirit Academy is a symbol of hope, a light in the darkness, a compass on a spiral course.
If this school had a slogan designed solely for 2020, it might be this:
Welcome to the 3rd Millennium: Holy Spirit Academy meets Noah’s Ark in a captivating tale of new beginnings and the fight to preserve the presence of Jesus in a world engulfed by skepticism and conflict.
Let’s keep Catholic education in Lawrence County by supporting Holy Spirit Academy in those same epic proportions that Noah faced during his lifetime.
Holy Spirit Academy is located at 915 South Jefferson Street, New Castle, PA 16101. Tel: 724-654-9297. A contribution of your choice—time, enrollment, monetary funds, prayers, advocacy—is greatly appreciated.
Leanna Litrenta is a former New Castle News intern and a Pittsburgh area freelance writer with roots in community journalism. For 20 years, Leanna, a Penn State graduate, has provided legal support to top-ranked, global firms.
In her spare time, she is a technical writer, editor, and occasional blogger.