Different Where it Counts

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Sharpened number two pencils with a pencil case of course, two ball point pens in blue or black ink only, a penmanship writing book, polished black dress shoes, and a crisply pressed uniform with the letters SAS emblazoned on the plaid tie that complimented the uniform pants and shirt, these are just a few of the memories I cherish having had the privilege of attending St. Aidan’s Elementary School in Williston Park. The eight years I attended St. Aidan’s School were a happy and enjoyable time for me. I started first grade in September 1967, and my teacher’s name was Sr. Ann Elizabeth, S.C. St. Aidan’s was unique in many ways; it is one of the FEW, if NOT the ONLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in our Diocese with two buildings. From its opening in 1950 until 1966 girls and boys were separated and so the building on the east side of Willis Avenue was known as “The Boys’ School,” staffed by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn and the west campus was the “Girls’ School,” staffed by the Sisters of Charity from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Upon my arrival the school was already coed and so the west campus became the Lower School for grades one through four and the east campus was known as the Upper School which housed students in grades five through eight. The Lower School Principal was always a Sister of Charity and the Upper School Principal was always a Franciscan Brother. Since Vatican II had already taken place, the school also had a number of laymen and women upon my arrival, but there were still a decent number of Religious Sisters and Brothers on the faculty during my tenure there and I was lucky to have several, including my eighth grade teacher, Sr. Maureen Murphy, a dynamic Math and Religion teacher, who had a beautiful gift for singing! My sisters were a part of the Girls Glee Club that Sister moderated.

Unlike other Catholic elementary schools, St. Aidan had a full service cafeteria with hot and cold foods four days a week. Thursday’s were release time, so we went home at 12:15, and Public School Children used the buildings for C.C.D. We also had a fully functioning Science Lab with Bunsen Burners. Classes were rigorous and the teachers were demanding, but this helped the students achieve entrance into some of the finest Catholic High Schools, including Chaminade, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Pius X, Prep Seminary, St. Francis Prep and Maria Regina to name a few.

It was TRULY DIFFERENT in terms of the Catholic values and morals as well as some Catholic practices that were taught. We had First Friday Masses with Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament; classes all started with prayers, some teachers, including one very religious lay teacher even taught us the Angelus and Memorare. Several dozen young men and women entered Religious Life or were ordained priests because of the firm spiritual foundation provided by St. Aidan. Hundreds of other Catholic schools in our nation have done the same. With the decline of Priests, Sisters and Brothers, most Catholic schools are staffed by dedicated lay men and women who still seek to teach Gospel centered values to young people.

We here at St. Boniface no longer have a parish school, but we are fortunate to be part of a Regional School, ALL SAINTS in Glen Cove. Unlike other Catholic Elementary schools in our Diocese, we are indeed, fortunate to have Religious Priests (Augustinian Canons) and Diocesan Priests who teach in All Saints, as well as dedicated lay women and men. Spiritual values and academic rigor are the philosophy and underpinning of the school. Students attend Mass and Confession once a month at All Saints and participate in a number of other faith centered activities, including daily meditations. Please support through prayer and finances the mission of our Regional Catholic School. Catholic schools have served countless generations of young people; may they continue to prosper and flourish in so many ways, including BEING DIFFERENT, WHERE IT COUNTS!

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