Article by Edward Jansen, ’21, Elizabeth Mooney, ’22, Lillian Stern, ’22, Megan Furlong, ’24, Grace Garcia, ’24, & Michelle Paszek, ’24:
On Friday, January 15, 2021, the Kellenberg community had its first “Firebird Faith Friday.”
Covid-19 has changed some of the aspects that make Kellenberg a home away from home, such as staying on campus until 5:30 for clubs, changing classes, eating lunch in the Cafeteria, and interacting with faculty and coaches in a variety of ways. However, Kellenberg has found new ways to live out the phrase “One Heart and One Mind” by keeping the Kellenberg community together through virtual club meetings, “daily walks,” Senior Lab Days, retreats, and now, Faith Fridays.
Sophomore Margaret Oldak stated, “The first Firebird Faith Friday is an experience I will not soon forget. Filled with team-building activities, spiritual enrichment, and educational lessons apart from the curriculum, it was a fun and most importantly safe day! I walked away from that day as a different person, one who is more in touch with my peers and one with God.”
The day started out with the school chaplain, Fr. Thomas Cardone, S.M., leading the student body in morning prayer. He stated the importance of our school’s motto: “One Heart and One Mind.”
Father Tom also told the story of the Epiphany and the Three Magi. He spoke about how the Star shows the Light of Christ and that we should look for the Light and eventually become part of it.
Freshman Gabriella D’Orlando stated, “Having Faith Friday gave me something to look forward to during the week and provided me with a sense of normalcy in this difficult time.”
After morning prayer, “cohort” senior retreat leaders led their assigned cohorts through meditation and discussion on New Year’s resolutions. The main discussion topic was being more committed to a faith journey whether it’s praying more throughout the day or going to Mass every week.
Kevin Bongiorno, ’21, a senior leader, commented on his experience: “Leading a group was rewarding to watch those focused on the challenges and seeing them get excited when they succeeded.” Kevin was apprehensive that having to work with students closer in age would change the dynamic of the activities“but instead of being an authority to them I turned out to be someone they were comfortable joking around with.”
Student leaders in the junior division led a decade of the rosary asking Mary to help students become the people that God has called them to be.
St. Ignatius said, “Whatever you are doing that which makes you feel the most alive… that is where God is.” A lot of students felt this way during Eucharistic Adoration. Sophomore Grace Wilson stated, “I really enjoyed Adoration because we were all praying together as a cohort in the presence of Jesus Christ. It was something I had experienced for the first time, and it gave me, as well as my classmates, an opportunity to take a brief break from the day to deepen our relationships with Jesus.”
Emma Rasheed ’22 felt the most moving part of the adoration was “when we were asked to say yes to being a light for Jesus and a leader to make a difference.”
A video featuring Mr. Kirk and Mrs. Mulligan informed the student body of the new student life center. With a diverse set of tasks, the SLC at KMHS aims to be a place of whole-student enrichment. Mr. Moncada developed one of the initiatives in a video about “4 Norms of Civil Discourse.”
The afternoon was spent separated into groups in which cohort members worked on team-building skills. Teams built marshmallow and toothpick towers and erected Solo-cup pyramids using only strings and rubber bands. A third activity tasked students with lowering a hula hoop to the ground using only two fingers of each hand, a distinctly more difficult goal than it seems.
Junior Ryan Gerhart said, “Building a structure with toothpicks and marshmallows was my favorite activity.”
After a break for lunch. homerooms went for a stroll outside on campus to relax and stretch their limbs for a little bit.
The day concluded with a showing of the documentary Screenagers, an examination of the real impacts of digital addiction on academic performance and social isolation.
Junior Logan McCann suggested, “The documentary shows how social media affects the lives of this generation and how our decisions regarding the media can affect the rest of our lives.”
Junior Jonathan Schapowal observed, “It was really interesting seeing how much time people invest in the internet and my classmates were able to relate.”
The day’s events were geared towards nurturing the mental and spiritual health of students.
Erin Cunnane, a junior, says, “During the retreat, you have the ability to get to know your classmates on a deeper level. It was a great opportunity at school to educate your heart!”
Senior Robert Nolan pointed out, “It was nice to see some of my friends again. When our days are so heavily regimented, there is hardly time to interact with familiar faces. Faith Friday gave us a moment to pause and appreciate the people around us, something that has become increasingly difficult in the Covid age.”
Latin Schooler Faith Cairo said, “There was a welcoming air to the place. To put it simply, it felt like Kellenberg again.”
Faith Fridays are a special light to the student body at KMHS; where they can continue to grow both spiritually and emotionally in faith. This was the first of several Faith Fridays to come. Students are scheduled for a Faith Friday experience every other week.