Easter Greetings from all at St. Anthony’s.
I hope that you found the Easter celebrations as wonderful and joyous as we did in Zuni. As I mentioned in my last letter March was a time of preparation and anticipation at the school, all of which rolled out into meaningful and celebratory realities. Historically we set dates as “”BC” and “AD” however, today we are more inclined to use “Pre” and Post” Covid. To my little mind, these last weeks have been a return to “pre-covid” days with an eye to tomorrow.
Our Native American Day has always been of great significance in the school year when we celebrate our students’ identity and ancient inherited traditions. Sadly, the event had to be shelved for the last three years and so we were determined that it should go ahead this year. Our students took to the practice with gusto. Zuni language and culture classes, gym and library classes were given over to practice and rehearsal of the intricate Zuni dances. On the day, still being a little cautious, we restricted the number of visitors in attendance to two family members for each student. However we did “live stream” the event, with Mike, our maintenance man, on a hydraulic lift, 30 feet in the air operating the camera. Over four hundred people tuned in.
Parents and teachers gathered to make the ”costumes”; students practiced with delight; technical magic was worked; even the custodial staff were gyrating to the drums as they prepared the gym. I persuaded our Indian Sisters to wear their traditional dress and of course, I dug out my kilt. With so much heart-felt enthusiasm, the day could be nothing but a great success. We were not disappointed.
I noticed one student in particular who intensely concentrated on every step. I complimented him on this to which he replied, “I always do”. Why not apply that level of concentration to your studies, I said. A look of incredulity came over him, but amazingly, his homeroom teacher has told me his grades are improving. (An inspired moment I think.)
We soon moved to the end of the term and the much-anticipated Spring break. Since school ended on Wednesday of Holy Week, we had to anticipate Easter just a little. Tuesday, the 5th Grade organized Easter Egg hunts for Kindergarten through to 3rd grade.
They prepared bags of candy for the rest of the school, which were a surprise and they were distributed amid a great deal of hilarity. On Wednesday, we had our “All School Mass” to end the term.
All the students had been given cards and envelopes on which they wrote promises about ways in which they would show ‘God’s goodness’ in their lives. They presented these at the offertory of the Mass. At the end of Mass, we all processed into the garden where I placed the cards in a fire together with a lavish helping on incense. Everyone sensed the fragrance as his or her prayer and promises rose to the heavens.
I should interrupt my story to say that while these hijinks were taking place, regular lessons continued unabated. As test results show, the infusion of laughter pays dividends with study.
Easter Sunday proved to me one of the most delightful that I have experienced. Just five of our young students received the Sacrament of Baptism on Sunday Morning amid a packed church congregation. At the renewal of baptismal vows, young and old bellowed out “I do” when I asked if they reject satan and all is works. Smiles of delight shown forth from the new baptized as they received their candles from God parents and told to ‘receive the Light of Christ’.
The ladies of the parish had arranged a ‘Pot Luck’ lunch to follow the Mass and a feast was prepared for all. The intrepid ‘Miss B’ (a member of the school board) had arranged yet another Easter Egg Hunt. My task was to be the starter for the hunt. I was fortunate to remain standing as dozens of kids (and some not so young) sallied forth, like an army in search of plunder. What a fun day!
I did notice that some of the better hunters shared their prizes with the tiny tots, which to me made the efforts very worthwhile. One of the baptismal candidates handed me a small box. It contained a tiny little ceramic bowl that he had made himself and painted with vibrantly bright colors. It now has a place among a few trinkets that I brought from Scotland. I could hardly believe that amid all his excitement, the little one thought about me. I hope and pray that the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of these little ones will stay with them throughout their lives. They could change the world.
During Easter Week, we provided accommodation to a group of twenty High School students from south Texas. They came to help out at our neighboring St. Patrick’s church, to complete the renovation of a home near the church and work on repairing the convent roof, under guidance from our maintenance people. Geared up for their first day of work, we found that the main road was closed because of a serious accident preventing them from going to St. Patrick’s. Undeterred they set to work around St. Anthony’s, helping with painting, grass cutting, weeding and a dozen other jobs.
This to me was yet another example of the generosity of young people when given the opportunity and motivation. I am sure that our own students of St. Anthony’s will follow suit in their lives.
Easter for me this year will be a “post Covid” time inspired by kindness, generosity and good will. Now we move forward to the end of the first century of St. Anthony’s in Zuni looking forward to the years ahead.
Thank you for making it all possible.
Easter Blessings to all!
Fr. Patrick McGuire
Download April 2023 Newsletter
Help Us out.
It Will Do Your Heart Good.
Make a Donation: Click Here