Greetings from Zuni bathed in May sunshine within and around us. On Sunday I noticed luxuriant grass growing at the roadside. Where the water was found to nourish it is a mystery since there is very little to be found in our lakes and rivers. Mother Nature finds its way to let the sun bring forth the unique beauty of our pueblo surroundings and the rapid approach of the end of the school year adds amazing smiles to the already radiant faces of the students.
They say one should never begin a letter with an apology but I do so seeking your understanding as our letter is sent out late again this month. Hopefully we will soon return to our usual schedule to give you our brief insights into the life of St. Anthony’s which you generously make possible.
One piece of news that I must share immediately is that ten of our alumni have been included in this year’s National Honors Role. While we sincerely congratulate them, I feel that our school and our friends deserve a wee smile, as we see the efforts we make “bearing fruit, fruit that will last” to quote from Scripture.
Arguably May is the busiest month at our school when not only are we completing the school year but everyone is busy trying to complete their work also, which means many meetings called just when we are trying to get ahead.
As I mentioned in my last letter, on their return from Easter vacation the students went into exam mode. The silence around the classrooms was intense. Some years back I noticed students being overconfident with exams with unfortunate results. Not so these days! From the youngest to oldest they made every effort towards well-deserved outcomes. Report cards are being prepared as I write and I know that there will be many more happy smiles among students and parents alike.
During May we had a rather beautiful church service prepared by and carried out by our graduating class. The whole school gathered in church as 8th grade entered in full traditional dress. The boys formed a guard of honor for the girls as they approached carrying flowers and a small crown. They led the school in prayer and ceremoniously crowned the statue of Mary. They concluded with prayers for the other students, for our donors and for peace. They brought an inspiring dignity to the service which reflected the inherent dignity of the Zuni people.
The service is available on our live stream website – http://stanthonyzunichurch.dyndns.org. I will leave it on the site for a while. (The first few minutes were simply the school gathering so persevere to the end.)
Since the graduates are in traditional dress this is also a good pre-graduation photo opportunity. I asked the students to pose in the front room of the rectory where there is a collection of Zuni pottery acquired by the Franciscan missionaries over many years. The ceiling is impossible to photograph in its entirety but has a mural depicting the first arrivals in Zuni along with traditional designs. It was painted in 1928 by a gentleman whose great, great grandchildren still attend St. Anthony’s. Just being in that room seems to generate a pride in the students, as they see their heritage persevered and honored. (I am always nervous in the room in case I break anything!)
May is our traditional time for the young students to receive their First Holy Communion. Srs. Satya and Ansi and Ms. Leola had been preparing them since the beginning of Lent. The parents this year, chose to have the girls in white dresses and the boys in more Western attire. Two of the children had been unwell prior to the group event but thankfully they were able to receive their First Communion the following week. The joy among them was obvious as they joined other students for Holy Communion at the Wednesday All School Mass. (It did mean two special cakes for the feast afterwards but no one complained especially me!) I smiled as two rather elderly members of the parish told me that as classmates they had made their first Holy Communion together. There are somethings that a person just does not forget!
Lastly and I think worth mentioning are two small events. This year first through fourth grades had been raising plants in their classrooms from seed. They transferred their fledgling plants to planters in the yard and every day they tenderly water the shoots and stand in awe as they measure the growth. The wonder in the eyes of the children is infectious. We introduce the students to pottery which is becoming a lost Zuni art but is an elective in High School. The pride with which the kids show me their creations is incredible. I am excited to see the finished articles next month.
We are on the last run up to graduation and the end of the year. Yet as I look back on the last few weeks I see the breadth of education that we offer the students. Obviously our academic efforts are proving successful with many alumni receiving National Honors. But we can also count achievement through our emphasis on traditional values that engender such pride within hearts. Not least of our achievements lies in an awareness of our students as they grow as spiritual people who find wonder in creation and being solid, caring and loving members of their community. The May sun is indeed shining.
Thank you for making it all so wonderfully possible.
Fr. Patrick McGuire
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