St. Columbkille throws 'out the net,' baptizes 20 students

Father Richard W. Fitzgerald performs baptisms for families of St. Columbkille Partnership School March 13. Pilot photo/Christopher S. Pineo

BRIGHTON -- Twenty one families of the St. Columbkille Partnership School community came together to share the gift of the Church with their children. But, in many ways, the children had already shared the blessings of the Church with their parents through their response to God.

Father Richard W. Fitzgerald, the pastor of St. Columbkille Parish, baptized 20 children and announced the Profession of Faith of one more, March 13, at a prayer service for St. Columbkille Partnership School, faculty, staff, students and their families.

Speaking with The Pilot before the event, both the head of school and the pastor connected the baptism with efforts of the new evangelization. For the parish, that meant outreach to encourage a renewed participation in the life of the Church. For the school, that meant a redoubled effort to promote Catholic identity internally.

The two efforts in the context of the new evangelization intersected during enrollment, when the parish contacted the school to find out if any students wanted or needed the sacrament of baptism.

Having worked in partnership with the Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College since 2006, the school drew on the longstanding partnership with the parish to encourage the baptisms.

Head of School William Gartside said St. Columbkille Partnership School makes evangelization a priority and parents hold a primary role in that collaboration; but sometimes as a result of learning about their faith every day at school, children from St. Columbkille evangelize their parents in a way.

"These parents have told me, because I have interviewed them, that their children come home every day and talk about something with regards to their religion," he said.

He said organizing the baptism came as a simple matter of outreach, but holds a greater significance with regard to the Catholic identity of the school reflected by students at home.

"It's almost a reversal, with the children highlighting the importance of it and then the parents get reflective of the religion that is within their own roots that they had forgotten, and now they reenergize and come back. So, the reaching out was easy, but the process that went into it in terms of the educational piece and the spiritual dimension that happens every day in Catholic schools sometimes is not," he said.

The school recently added a position to promote Catholic identity in the classrooms and corridors. This year, Gartside appointed Rachel Rumely, previously a teacher at the school, Director of Mission and Catholic Identity.

Charged with forwarding the mission of the school "to offer a rigorous and comprehensive education rooted in Gospel teaching and committed to Catholic educational and religious traditions" according to the school mission statement, Rumely managed communications with the family and the community that led to the baptisms at the parish.

"This actually stemmed from one family saying, I want to have my child baptized. In between talking with Father Fitzgerald and talking with our Head of School Bill Gartside, we decided that if there's one there's probably more, and we should really ask," Rumely said.

She said the school began sending emails asking parents if their children needed the sacrament of baptism.

In his homily during the service, Father Fitzgerald spoke about a natural openness children show toward God.

"One of the wonderful things about being involved in the religious education of children, whether it be in school or in a religious education program at the parish, is to see how naturally children respond to God. It's in their nature to respond to God, and so we're here today to baptize these children because of their response to God," Father Fitzgerald said.

Father Fitzgerald pointed to the words of Pope St. John Paul II as an inspiration for the effort.

"He said throw out the net and see what fish you catch. So, at St. Columbkille's we threw out the net," Father Fitzgerald said at the end of the service.

Corey E. Merchant, mother of three boys baptized that day, said her family was first in line to have her children baptized.

"We're kind of proud, because we kind of started the whole thing. It's very exciting, and we're very excited for the school as well," she said.

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...