Our Lady of Hope School Opens 50th Anniversary

by Antonina Zielinska

Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano, the main celebrant, congratulates the founding principal, Sister Kathleen Lindsey, O.P.

Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano joined the parish of Our Lady of Hope, Middle Village, to honor the 50th year of the parochial school when he celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving on Sunday, Oct. 14.

He spoke of the importance of the school during the anniversary Mass.

“The name of Jesus is not only spoken on lips but in everything they do,” he said. The school “imparts knowledge and seeks wisdom. That knowledge will give (the students) authority… Wisdom is the key to holiness, to happiness and to everlasting glory.”

It is that wisdom that attracted Patrick and Linda Frawley to send both their children to the school. Linda said she enrolled her daughter, Lea, after she saw the positive effects it had on her son.

Lea said she appreciates her Catholic education, especially because it is at Our Lady of Hope.

“Our Lady of Hope has a spark,” she said.

That spark was started over 50 years ago when Father Sylvester Lineback petitioned Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart for permission to build a school that would serve the many children in the growing community. His newly established parish did not yet have a permanent church building, but it would soon have a school building. The parish celebrated Mass in the school auditorium for nearly two decades.

In 1963, seven Amityville Dominican sisters opened the school. The first principal, Sister Kathleen Lindsey O.P., formerly known as Sister Mary Austin, said there was a great need for the school from the very beginning. On the first day of school, she welcomed two kindergarten classes and three classes of each first to sixth grades, with an average class size of 50 students. The school then incorporated seventh and eighth grades over the next two years.

Although the number seemed overwhelming at first, Sister Kathleen said it was nothing that the Dominicans could not handle. In the mornings, to help keep order, the school’s marching band would play and the students would all parade into their classes.

She said another factor contributing to the smooth beginning were the parents. They were thankful to Father Lineback for bringing them a school. As a result, the children were very respectful, she said.

Margaret Dandola, who taught in the school from 1992 to 2002, said the positive attitude of the parents and children is what has kept the school strong throughout the years.

“The kids are absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The parents bring us wonderful kids and that’s not easy.”

Tradition of Vocations

One of those kids was Kevin Abels, now a priest and diocesan director of vocations. His father, Larry, serves as organist for the parish and his mother, Linda, is a volunteer. Father Abels said the strong faith community of Our Lady of Hope first put him on the path to his vocation.

“I became a priest because it was in this school that I was first asked the question: have you ever thought of becoming a priest,” he said.

Father Robert Armato, parochial vicar, Father Frank Spacek and Father Thomas Gilbert are also among the priests that Our Lady of Hope School has fostered.

Father Michael Carrano, pastor, said the parish continues to support the spiritual growth of the children. Jane Mattina, who retired from teaching in June, said Father Carrano’s presence is extremely valuable in the school.

“He’s always in the building and he knows the kids,” she said. “He really makes an effort to know the faculty and students.”

Michele Krebs, principal, said the students in the school also benefit from a dedicated faculty, many of whom sent their children to the school and others who are alumni. She said they prepare the students with a strong foundation to be faithful Catholics and ready for the academic rigors of high school.

Mattina said it is the tight-knit community of the school that keeps it strong. She said she has made strong lasting relationships throughout the school. For example, Krebs taught her oldest son in kindergarten.

“Every time I drive by, I just want to stop by and say hi to everyone,” she said.

Sister Kathleen said she is proud of the school.

“I am just so excited that we still have the school and that we have such a high enrollment,” she said.

The school currently has an enrollment of 632 and receives no financial subsidy from the parish.

The current principal, Michele Krebs
The school children served as the choir for the anniversary Mass.