On September 14 the Catholic Church holds the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, celebrating the finding of the cross on which Christ was crucified by Saint Helena, the mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine as well as the dedication of the churches on the site of the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary, where Christ was buried and died, respectively.
Though Uniondale-based Kellenberg Memorial High School had celebrated the feast day for numerous years with a large outdoor mass with the student body, their sister school Chaminade in Mineola had not held an event in the 80-plus year history of the private all-boys high school.
The decision to change that this year came from three of the Chaminade staff members: Mike Foley, Michael Dolce and Fr. Garrett Long, S.M. The school had also held masses with the entire student body in attendance in the activities and athletic center on Jericho Turnpike.
“There’s so many creative things we could do, so this is a byproduct of them creating a prayer service,” Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M. said of the faculty Friday morning as the 1,600 students were led onto the football field in front of the visitors section of the bleachers where a large cross had been affixed.
“They have burned it, tattooed it,” Fr. Todd Saccoccia, who presided over the mass, said in his homily. “The Cross is the hinge of history, period. And we hear our Lord’s call: ‘if anyone wishes to be my disciple, he must deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me.’ We may not want to go; once more, we too may be called to suffer greatly for that decision, but in that decision, in that decision to follow, we find our God my friends, we find our salvation.”
Fr. Saccoccia also noted that the mass was being celebrated the same week as the country observed the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
“In the Cross we are reminded that death is not the end, nor does it destroy the bonds of love that we forge in our lives,” he said. “The terrorists sought to bring us to our knees, and they succeeded, they had no idea however, that we would kneel before the Holy Cross of Christ.”
Both Chaminade and Kellenberg are run by brothers of the Society of Mary and Chaminade students had previously attended the mass when it was held at Kellenberg.
“The causal Christian has no influence upon others. Only by a life of obedience to the voice of the Spirit by daily dying to self, by a full dedication to Christ and his Cross are we able to live a Godly life in what seems to be at times and un-Godly world. Let us put aside, weak, timid Christianity. If the world wants to laugh at us and call us fools – pffft – let them do it. After all, in relation to eternity, they will only be laughing for a little while.”