Friday, February 25, 2011

St. Bernard students celebrate Mass at Ave Maria Grotto

Warm temperatures provided a delightful outing recently at Ave Maria Grotto as students at St. Bernard Preparatory School held their weekly Mass at the main grotto altar on Feb. 23, the feast of St. Polycarp. Students stood quietly before the altar in the courtyard as the crows circled the skies delivering their own cawing messages in the serene setting. Only the nearby stream of Eight Mile Creek could be heard making its way to the Warrior River.

One of Alabama’s most notable landmarks, Ave Maria Grotto was dedicated in May of 1934. An old stone quarry, it was landscaped to hold and display the work of Br. Joseph Zoetl, a monk of St. Bernard Abbey who arrived at the Cullman monastery from his native Bavaria in 1892 at the age of 13. Measuring twenty-seven feet high at the apex, the main grotto (cave) shrine is made of stone from the quarry where it stands, reinforced concrete, and marble-studded stalactites. Made of Carrara marble, statues of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica adorn the altar where Mass was celebrated. Some 40 feet away stands a bronze life-size statue of Br. Joseph facing the altar and helping all to be aware of that little monk who figures so large in St. Bernard history.

Father Bede Marcy, School Chaplain, said that to his knowledge this was the first time Mass had been held in the Grotto gardens since the Funeral Mass of Br. Joseph Zoetl was offered there in October of 1961, almost fifty years ago.

Fr. Bede delivered the homily reminding students that being outside on the grounds of Ave Maria Grotto was probably very similar to what happened in ancient times when Saint Polycarp gave his life for the privilege of “turning to God,” united in prayer and in freedom, safety and peace. Saint Polycarp would not deny who Christ was, and he lived to celebrate at the altar of that truth. “Truth is one. God is one, and all power and healing comes from God,” Fr. Bede said.

The occasion was a momentous one: St. Bernard students worshiping God in a place so dear to St. Bernard Abbey, remembering the humble Br. Joseph whose life and work has shaped the Abbey and affected the thousands who have visited Ave Maria Grotto.

Monday, February 21, 2011

St. Bernard Middle School completes Catholic Schools Week

St. Bernard Middle School students completed Catholic School’s Week by participating in a number of contest to include a Spelling Bee, Religion Bee, Social Studies Bee, and Math Bee. Pictured are the winners of each. Candace Rosenhoover , Huntsville– Spelling; Lesley O’Donnell , Hayden– Religion and Science; Kimi Garcia, Cullman – Social Studies; and Will Sciaroni, Decatur – Math. Mr. William Calvert, SBP Middle School principal presented the awards.

Monday, February 14, 2011

SBP travels to Washington, DC

On Friday, January 21st, twenty-eight St. Bernard Preparatory School students left their campus for Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life that was held on Monday, January 24. The St. Bernard group was accompanied by Headmaster Fr. Joel Martin and Chaplain Fr. Bede Marcy and three St. Bernard parents. They joined with representatives from various parishes on the over night trek to D.C. traveling together in three buses. Said Headmaster Fr. Joel, “I was overwhelmed with our students’ response to the opportunity offered by the Diocese of Birmingham. Roughly one fourth of our Upper School, grades 9-12, attended the event; that’s outstanding.”

Leaving at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the group arrived at the Capitol in D.C. at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. The full weekend included a tour of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception adjacent to Catholic University, Mass at the Shrine celebrated by Bishop Baker for all those gathered from the Diocese of Birmingham, a day at the Smithsonian and other museums, a night tour of the monuments, etc.

Finally Monday arrived and all gathered at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington joining thousands of teenagers from around the country for a youth rally, followed by Mass celebrated by Cardinal Donald Weurl, Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal George of Chicago, many other bishops and hundreds of concelebrating priests, as well as many deacons and hundreds of seminarians. Before Mass, several thousand teens celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and all present prayed the Rosary. “The atmosphere was electric,” said one parent.

Following the rally, St. Bernard students united with the overwhelming crowd of thousands that marched from the Mall past the Capitol to the Supreme Court Building. Said one student, “We are here to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, the most defenseless among us; they are being put to death, and if that doesn’t change our country will die.”

The March was both serious and joyful. It was urgent about the cause, and filled with the enthusiasm of an army of American teenagers born after the legalization of abortion in their country.

After the March, all boarded the three buses and made the overnight trip home to Alabama, arriving Tuesday morning exhausted, but enthused by the experience of joining so many in defending human life.

St. Bernard Students attending: J. C. Albritton, Shelby Bailey, Jade Bradford, Michayla Brown, Ben Chiodo, Nathan Cline, Audrey Cofield, Nathan Denson, Nate Durkee, Ria Foye, Anna Keefe, Danielle Klopfer, Rita Lappert, Taylor Martin, Elizabeth McAfee, Mark McDaniel, Sean Moriarty, Andrea Naranjo, James Nix, John Russell, Michael Schartung, John Schneider, Madeline Schweers, Austin Steele, Caitlin Varquez, Michael Justin Varquez, Anthony Weaver, Halle Webb.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Drawdown held at St. Bernard

The annual St. Bernard Prep School drawdown was held on Saturday, February 5, 2011 in the St. Bernard Fazi-Richard Athletic Center with over 500 attending. The drawdown is sponsored by the Saints Club, a group composed primarily of the parents of currently enrolled St. Bernard students.

The evening began with a silent auction of prizes ranging from artistic items to a weekend at a resort on the Gulf of Mexico. After dinner was served, the drawdown began. The culmination of the evening was the drawing of the last five tickets which designated this year’s winners.

The grand prize of $10,000 was awarded to Col. (ret) and Mrs. John Larkins of Gadsden, AL. Other prizes included $1000 given to the Knights of Columbus of Cullman, AL, $750 awarded to Mr. and Mrs. John Tekulve of Cullman, AL, $500 presented to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Palmer of Decatur, AL, and $250 given to Gerard Chomskis of Cullman, AL.

Raymond Webb, President of SBP Booster Club was very pleased with the outcome of the evening. “Given the state of the economy we were very concerned, but St. Bernard alumni, parents, and friends in the community once again rallied together to make this the best Drawdown Dinner to date.”

The proceeds from the event support the athletic programs of the school.