With a full week of classes under their wing, nearly 800 Notre Dame students, teachers, administrators, and parents filled the pews at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Hartford on Sept. 19 for the Opening School Year Mass led by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham.

The entire Notre Dame community sang “This Little Light of Mine,” while representatives from each class year entered waving blue and gold flags. The Mass was concelebrated by Father Lukasz Kozlowski, Father Joseph Salerno, Father Christopher Celentano, Father John E. Mikalajunas, Father Joseph M. O’Connor, and Father Paul D. Madej, assisted by Seminarian Nathan Brooks. Also attending was William W. Crist, Superintendent of Schools.

During the homily, Father Madej, ND ’82, and Father Celentano encouraged students to recognize that Jesus Christ is the light and to share that light and be that light with those around them.   

The diversity of the school was recognized as students offered their intentions for prayer in English, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, and French.

Notre Dame senior Anthony Alasante thought it was refreshing to see kids of all ages at the Mass: “It reminded me of how I’ve grown up in the Catholic school system and what I am about to venture on as my senior year is upon me.” During the Mass he reflected upon what he was told by Father Paul in the senior leadership retreat last week and also on the message at the Sept. 19 Mass: “Both were messages of leadership and how Jesus led us so we can lead others in his likeness.”

Before he left, Bishop Cunningham toured the construction of the Monsignor Willenburg Multipurpose Center, which is due to open at the close of the school year. The building will house a stage and auditorium/gymnasium for arts and athletics programs.

Located in Utica, Notre Dame Schools is a preK-12 college preparatory Catholic school system that provides tomorrow’s young men and women with a value-centered and academically challenging environment.  For more information, please visit www.notredameutica.org or call (315) 724-5118.

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