While stores in the Tampa Bay area had already moved on to stocking their shelves for Valentine’s Day at Academy, the new year started off with a Christmas Celebration Mass for Academy students and faculty on Friday, January 4, in the Brady Center.
AHN President Mr. Raimo spoke before the Mass, announcing the birth of his first granddaughter Olivia. He shared a story of how the birth of Olivia right before Christmas provided a special gift for him in his becoming a grandfather for the first time. He reminded everyone in the Brady Center what Christmas is really about – family.
Especially relevant to the theme of family was the presence of the family of Frederick Hartlage Sr., for whom the Mass was said, representing three generations of Academy students and alums. Seated together were Dr. and Mrs. Robert Fernandez (Mary Lois Hartlage ’62), their daughter Mrs. Marci Kant ’90, who is a teacher in Academy Lower School, and their four grandchildren.
Rev. Bruce Craig, S.D.B, Pastor of Mary Hope of Christians, celebrated the Mass. Father Craig emphasized the importance of light and life throughout his homily. He reminded Academy students and faculty that Jesus should be the light of our lives. Families should be centered around the light that Jesus’s lbirth and life on earth brought to the world. “It is important never to stray from the truth towards the dark. Although it may be hard, listen to God and practice the virtues that lead to a happy life.”
Father also explained how the Christmas season lasted far beyond the Christmas Day. Technically, the Christmas season ends on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. “The Christmas season lasts after long after Christmas because God’s love for us is so great.”
The congregation joined in song with Academy’s Quarter Notes, including “We Three Kings” during the opening procession. Junior KeTaira Phillips sang a beautiful rendition of “Night of Silence” while the rest of the singers harmonized “Silent Night” in the background. They ended with “Joy to the World,” which gave everyone a sense of unity with their Academy community returning from a wonderful holiday and set the tone to being a productive and joyful new year.