As part of his annual Catholic Schools Week (CSW) schedule, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio visited Immaculate Conception School, Jamaica Estates, on the morning on Jan. 30 to promote this year’s CSW theme – “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
The entire student body of more than 500 children from nursery through eighth grade attended a special assembly in the school’s auditorium. In addition to a handcrafted welcome sign in the school’s lobby, the students greeted Bishop DiMarzio with a standing ovation as he entered the auditorium.
“It was amazing,” said seventh grader Anuja Deodat. “You don’t expect people like Bishop DiMarzio to come to our school, and so it was really exciting.”
The bishop was accompanied by Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, diocesan superintendent of schools, and Anne-Marie Baumis, associate superintendent for government programs and services.
“The children were very excited to know that we were one of only two schools he (Bishop DiMarzio) chose out of 90,” said Dorothea Breen, principal. “It was wonderful to have him here.” The other school was St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, which Bishop DiMarzio visited following his trip to Immaculate Conception.
After Father Bill Murphy, C.P., pastor of Immaculate Conception Monastery, Jamaica, led the audience in prayer, Breen spoke about CSW at the school and how the investment in a Catholic education lasts a lifetime.
“Catholic education is essential within the Diocese of Brooklyn,” Dr. Chadzutko said. “The visits from Bishop DiMarzio during Catholic Schools Week are an opportunity for us to not only show the strength of our school communities but also for these communities to witness positive leadership in the world around them.”
The school’s chorus and band performed on stage and even sang in Latin, to Bishop DiMarzio’s delight.
“I think Immaculate Conception is a unique school,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “We’re proud of all of our schools, but this is one of the best schools we have in the diocese.”
History, Culture and Faith
The Student Council made a PowerPoint presentation – narrated by eighth grader and president Gregory Hollant – informing Bishop DiMarzio about the school’s history, special events and how the school fosters a Catholic identity.
“Catholic schools allow us to create a whole atmosphere of culture and faith, and it helps transmit the faith to the children,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
“I like a Catholic school because I get to learn about God and the religion I belong to,” Gregory said.
The Student Council vice president, seventh grader Gabriella Tamayo, presented the bishop with a new briefcase embroidered with the school’s logo and filled with a book detailing the school’s history, a water bottle, a key chain and the chorus and band’s Christmas CD.
Bishop DiMarzio addressed the children and told them to go home and thank their parents for making the sacrifice to be able to send them to a Catholic school.
In what has become a CSW tradition, the bishop then engaged the students in a game of “Stump the Bishop,” in which the children could ask him any question. The kids prepared questions about when he became a bishop; how would someone get into heaven; how to discern a vocation; and who is his favorite saint, to which he responded St. Gerard Majella.
Bishop DiMarzio presented Breen with a certificate commemorating the visit during CSW. He then blessed a special stained-glass window in the school that was created in 2008 under the direction of the school’s Aquinas Honor Society.
The window is a Sept. 11, 2001 memorial, and it includes pieces of steel from the World Trade Center that form olive leaves. The two vertical lines in the word “Hope” depict the Twin Towers.
“It’s a wonderful experience for them,” said Breen of Bishop DiMarzio’s visit. “To put a face to a name, it makes it more personable; it makes it more realistic. It’s great for the children to see who our leaders are.”