When a student steps into Trinity High School on their first day as a freshman, the place they begin that journey is the school’s auditorium. Four years later, when they cross the stage to receive their diploma after years of growing in every way, they do so, too, in the auditorium at graduation. For 59 years, thousands of have spent many hours in this central part of the school, where students and faculty gather each week for Holy Mass, and where Trinity’s excellent music and dramatic arts programs take to the stage every year.
Literally minutes after the last diploma was handed out to the “Z” surname at last year’s graduation ceremony, staff and volunteers began ripping out the wooden seats, gutting the auditorium so work could begin to renovate the existing space into a dynamic, sound efficient and comfortable seating venue for the school. Thanks to a very generous, anonymous donor family, the newly renovated auditorium was completed in time for Catholic Schools Week, when Bishop Ronald Gainer blessed and dedicated the auditorium on January 31, the feast of St. John Bosco.
St. John Bosco (Don Bosco) was born in Italy in the early 19th century and at an early age became a devout Catholic earnest in becoming a priest. After several vivid dreams, the young boy left home to work in a vineyard and not long after joined the seminary. His first assignment was in Turin, Italy, where he devoted himself to helping poor and uneducated boys of the quickly industrializing city.
Bishop Gainer, in his homily during the celebration of Mass for the school community, shared his deeply memorable experiences of visiting Turin on a Catholic Charities led pilgrimage with some 80 Diocesan faithful last September.
Pastors and priests from Trinity’s feeder schools in the Cumberland/Perry Deanery concelebrated Holy Mass with Bishop Gainer, and the enhanced acoustics and lighting made for a reverent ceremony that has been in the waiting for the school, which opened in 1963, just weeks before President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Mrs. Caroline Jarrett, who oversees the performing and musical arts at Trinity, sees the improvements as a wonderful blessing to students. “The much needed renovations give our student artists the ability to learn and present their productions in the highest quality performing space,” Jarret noted. “The new auditorium is outfitted with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems and fly rigging…. This project dedicated largely to the arts speaks to the mission of Trinity to educate and enrich all students whether they participate in athletics or the arts.”
Echoing Mrs. Jarrett’s joyful sentiments, the school’s long-time principal John Cominsky said after Mass, “This auditorium space, along with our chapel, is our worship space – it is the center of our building.” Adding with a smile, he continued, “The heart of it is the worship space it provides for us. After 60 years, we were ready for a remodel.”
He also noted that it was a blessing to have Bishop Gainer and his brother priests join the school community in the dedication Mass. “This renovation will enhance us on a daily basis… and we are very thankful and very blessed by all who helped this come to completion,” Cominsky said. “It is a major step forward for us.”
January 31 also marked what would have been the 65th birthday of Father Louis Ogden, who sadly passed away in February 2015 and was clearly in the thoughts and prayers of Cominsky during Mass. Father Ogden was a graduate of Trinity back in the 1970s and was a dedicated, tireless advocate for Catholic education and his beloved alma mater. Father Ogden was pastor of St. Joseph Parish and School in Mechanicsburg at the time of his passing.
This beautifully renovated auditorium would have assuredly brought a gleam to his eyes, which never lost focus of the sacred Trinity.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness