Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lancaster Catholic High School Carries Forth Mission with Unveiling of Student Life Center, Celebration of All-Schools Mass

Carrying forward its mission of forming students who are astute, faithful and responsible, Lancaster Catholic High School hosted two events on Saturday, May 11, aimed at bringing Catholic education to a new generation.

The first was the ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing of the school’s state-of-the-art Catholic Student Life Center, marking a momentous occasion in its multi-phase “Cherish, Love, Honor” capital campaign.

The spacious two-story center includes a new cafeteria and an inviting atmosphere for students to study, socialize and reflect.

A few dozen benefactors attended the intimate unveiling, during which Bishop Timothy Senior blessed the center and cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“Thanks to your generosity of spirit and your temporal generosity, we are able to open our new Catholic Student Life Center,” Timothy Hamer, Lancaster Catholic’s President, told those gathered. “It is a culmination of many years of work and a capital campaign of $11.9 million that has raised over $15 million – exceeding its goal by well over 20 percent.”

The Catholic Student Life Center includes seating for more than 225 students in a collegiate-style setting, bountiful ambient lighting from an octagonal skylight and an open stairway to second-level seating and access to the new library. The original brick façade is featured in the new space, which was partially built on the site of a former courtyard.

Connecting alumni to current students, the center includes the recognition of its donors in unique ways, with their names on large panels of inspirational quotes and in an interactive screen that features benefactor biographies and photos.

“Every student will be in this space every day, and we wanted them to see and ponder a collection of the wisdom of Catholic intellectual tradition throughout the ages,” Hamer said of the panels, which include quotes from Sacred Scripture and the saints.

The opening of the center marks the completion of the second of three undertakings in the school’s plan to renovate the 95-year-old building. The first was the opening of a state-of-the-art STEM Innovation Center in 2021. The final project in this phase of the capital campaign will be a brand new auditorium that will serve as a place for school Masses, guest lectures and presentations, and the fine and performing arts.

In remarks prior to blessing the Catholic Student Life Center, Bishop Senior called it “a great tribute to the history and tradition of Lancaster Catholic High School, which is ever new and serves a new generation of students.”

“I’ve been so inspired, since I came to Harrisburg, about the great gift we have of Catholic education, and I’m inspired particularly by the loyalty of our alumni. That is certainly the case here at Lancaster Catholic. I know you are very proud of your school, and you express that with your support,” he told the benefactors.

“As we bless this center, we ask God to bless all those who pass through it, that they will encounter Jesus Christ and grow into the well rounded human beings and leaders in our community that we know God designs them to be.”

Continuing the celebration of the school’s mission and its next generation of students, a special all-school Mass followed the blessing of the center. The liturgy brought students and families from Lancaster Catholic and its six partner schools together in a united celebration of faith and a witness to the blessings of Catholic schools.

Students, principals, teachers and families from Lancaster Catholic, St. John Neumann, Resurrection, Our Lady of the Angels, St. Leo the Great, Sacred Heart and Our Mother of Perpetual Help gathered in Lancaster Catholic’s gymnasium. At the start of Mass, student representatives carried enlarged and framed school logos bearing the signatures of its students. The frames were placed at the foot of the altar for the celebration.

Bishop Senior was the celebrant and homilist for the Mass.

“I can’t help but think of how many have walked through these doors at Catholic High wondering what their future was going to be, and then discovering it,” he said in his homily. “Many have gone through Catholic High and discovered the priesthood, consecrated life, others discovered their vocation to the married life or single life. That’s what Catholic schools do. It’s really what every school does to some degree, but in a Catholic high school, it’s explicitly related to discovering God’s plan,” he said. “That relationship with God is nourished and encouraged. That primary compass for our lives – the relationship with Jesus Christ – is at the forefront. It’s the heart and mission of every Catholic school.”

The Mass was part of the “I Love MY Catholic School” campaign, a collaborative initiative of representatives from each Catholic school community in Lancaster County. The initiative is aimed at showcasing the impact and opportunities the schools offer, with the purpose of enhancing visibility and increasing enrollment.

Following the Mass, students and families were invited to tour the new Catholic Student Life Center and enjoy refreshments and camaraderie.

For more information about Lancaster Catholic High School, visit www.lchsyes.org. Information about Catholic schools in the Diocese can be found at www.GoCatholicSchools.org.

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness. Group photo courtesy of Genesis Rodriguez, Marketing Coordinator at Lancaster Catholic High School.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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