Today the school celebrated Mass with a special theme of reconciliation. As we enter the final days of Advent, our preparation to receive the Savior asks us to look internally at how and what we may need to change or do in order to best welcome Christ. The 5th graders chose the parable of the Prodigal Son and Fr. Jimmy provided an excellent understanding of that great Gospel story during his homily. So much so, that I was personally and profoundly called to look at my own shortcomings in light of the story’s message. I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak to high school seniors about this parable in relation to Rembrandt’s beautiful painting many times during my tenure at St. Monica, and yet, until today, I’m not sure I truly applied it. Which character am I? Like the second son do I need to search out those I have injured and ask for their forgiveness? Like the father do I need to embrace those who have hurt me and forgive and forget? Today, I realized I am like the older son. I need to let go of my disappointment and judgement of my cousin. I need to recognize that she deserves the same love, care, and forgiveness from me that Jesus outlines in this parable and in the model of his life. For me to truly be prepared for Jesus’s coming this Christmas, I need to look inward, reflect, pray, and accept the relationship with and standing of my cousin. It was honestly a tough moment sitting in Church today and realizing this. But, after thought and writing about it now, I recognize my own little “epiphany” and hope that I have the strength and understanding in God’s great love to open my heart again. I pray that each of you may also have an epiphany of sorts in recognizing which character from the Prodigal Son you are currently called by God to be.

Christmas-time is upon us and the celebrations have begun! Much thanks to Christopher Walker, the Schola Cantorum, the Caritas Choir, the children’s choir, and all those that participated in the resounding success of the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday afternoon. This Friday at 10:30 will be the school’s Christmas program in the Church which Mrs. Campbell and Ms. Jenny have worked so hard on for the last number of weeks. The children are excited and I am sure you will enjoy the performance. Dismissal will take place shortly after the completion of the Christmas Program at 12:30 pm. Please remember that there will NOT be Day Care available, so ensure that your student(s) are picked up promptly! Please note as well that the school office will be closed during the Christmas break, and that school resumes on Tuesday, January 6th with the first bell at 7:40am. I’m sure the schoolyard will be filled with anxious students and delighted parents. Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Mrs. Molly Harrigan who has agreed to chair the Festival for next October. If you are interested in volunteering, or Molly has already got you in her sights, please have some prayerful consideration about this great service to the school community.

I cannot thank each of you enough for the wonderful first “half” of this school year. I recognize there have been some bumps in the road and likely disagreements, disappointments, and frustrations voiced or otherwise, but I firmly believe that is all part of being a family. The children of St. Paul the Apostle are such amazing boys and girls on the way to becoming wonderful men and women and that is due to your loving support of them and the school. Every day that I am blessed to interact with your children is a good day. I will be a little sad to see 2014 end as it has certainly been one of, if not the greatest, year of my life. But I know that when I see these students on January 6th, it will remind me that 2015 will be just as great. Thank you for giving me 541 of the best Christmas presents ever!

Be safe, enjoy family, and relax! God bless,

Mr. Richard Billups