Archbishop Williams High School’s theme for this school year is “Sing a New Song,” a passionate message of renewal, faith and community embedded into every facet of learning and service for the School’s Grade 7-12 students.
Braintree’s Archbishop Williams High School is appropriately named after Rev. John Joseph Williams, the first Archbishop of Boston, who is acknowledged as the father of the Boston Catholic parochial school system. This year, almost 140 years after his appointment, Williams’ students remain true to their namesake’s vision of quality Catholic education by partaking in numerous service projects in their community. The theme of 2015 Catholic Schools Week is “Faith, Knowledge and Service.” This focus epitomizes the message that the Archbishop Williams family practices on a daily basis. Indeed, Williams is intent on producing leaders who serve, especially those less fortunate.
The Archbishop Williams Campus Ministry program seeks to develop students not only through education but also through the exercise of their Catholic Faith. “Campus Ministry is a key offering at Archbishop Williams in that the generosity and grace of our students is manifested not only inside the school, but also outside in the community,” said Director of Campus Ministry David Gilpin. Gilpin added, “Our student leaders or “Peer Ministers” are among our best and brightest. They enrich lives, their own included, through the selfless and giving spirit which epitomizes Archbishop Williams.”
This past summer, led by Campus Minister Carol O’Brien, 11 Archbishop Williams students sacrificed their vacation time traveling to the Ohio Valley, a region suffering widespread poverty, to help those less fortunate. The students partnered with Sister Luke Boiarski, from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, the teaching order Richard Cardinal Cushing recruited for the School’s founding in 1949. Although the Sisters have not taught in the School in recent years, the relationship between the SCN and AWHS remains strong. The highpoint of the week-long project was the scraping and painting of a house in Barton, Ohio. Such projects are usually reserved for church mission groups or college students, but Sister Luke’s previous mission experience with Archbishop Williams students convinced her not only that they could perform the required physical work but, more important, that they would exhibit the true spirit of service.
When they weren’t working, the students stayed at the Barton Volunteer Fire Department’s “social hall,” the former Our Lady of Angels Church. Those accommodations provided a perfect setting for nightly prayers and reflections by the student volunteers and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Commenting on the success of the service project, Ms. O’Brien said, “This was another fantastic opportunity for our students to see first hand how their service efforts can have an impact outside of the immediate Archbishop Williams community.” O’Brien added, “The Sisters are a wonderful group to work with. They keep the cost for student participation low but the impact very high. We look forward to partnering with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, on many projects.” That partnership will be in evidence again this month as O’Brien, along with Sister Luke, will travel to Belize to build houses and provide outreach to those in need through Catholic Services in Central America.
The Barton, Ohio service project is but one example of the wonderful work performed through the Archbishop Williams Campus Ministry Program. Over the past year, Archbishop Williams’ students traveled to Philadelphia and served those at St. Francis House, worked at the Franciscan Hospital for children in Brighton, and made, delivered and served lunches for Fr. Bill’s Place in Quincy.
Serving others is a standard expectation of Archbishop Williams’ students. Principal Michael Volonnino, Ph. D., believes focusing on Catholic Service is a necessary element in cultivating every Archbishop Williams student for his or her future endeavors. Said Dr. Volonnino, “As a Catholic school, we are called by our faith to create leaders who serve a world community. The day-to-day needs of our community evolve so quickly it is our responsibility to produce students who can react and respond to the ever-changing needs of the world. When students realize their responsibility to serve others in school and beyond, our Bishops epitomize ‘Sing a New Song.’ "
Archbishop Williams joins in celebrating Catholic Schools Week. It recognizes and celebrates the faith of its community, the knowledge of importance of spirituality, and the service its students provide to society’s needy and vulnerable.
To learn more about Archbishop Williams High School or how your child’s “Future can begin at Williams” contact Chief Admissions and Enrollment Officer, Brett Marcotte at 781-535-6051 or visit the Williams’ website at www.awhs.org.
Peter C. Hall is Chief Communications & Marketing Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-535-6082) at Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree, Ma., a Catholic, co-educational, independent high school, which educates young men and women in Grades 7-12 spiritually, academically, morally and physically.
*This article appeared in the January 23, 2015 Catholic Schools Week Special Section of The Pilot.