February 6, 2024 at 9:55 a.m.

A ‘WONDERFUL CELEBRATION’

15 students baptized at SMSA at start of Catholic Schools Week
Fifteen students were baptized by Father Scott VanDerveer at St. Mary’s Church in Glens Falls on Jan. 29. The baptisms, which took place at the start of Catholic Schools Week, included 14 students from St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School. (Photos courtesy of Emily Hampton)
Fifteen students were baptized by Father Scott VanDerveer at St. Mary’s Church in Glens Falls on Jan. 29. The baptisms, which took place at the start of Catholic Schools Week, included 14 students from St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School. (Photos courtesy of Emily Hampton)

GLENS FALLS — St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School (SMSA) in Glens Falls started its celebration of Catholic Schools Week in a particularly special way this year — with the baptism of 15 students.

The baptisms took place during the Jan. 29 morning Mass at St. Mary’s Church, across the street from the school. Father Scott VanDerveer, pastor of St. Mary’s, baptized the children, who ranged in age from preschool to grade 7, with all but one attending SMSA.

“Friends, we start Catholic Schools Week with the most wonderful celebration any of us could ever imagine — the celebration of the gift of baptism,” Father VanDerveer said as the Mass began.

In his homily, Father VanDerveer elaborated on the theme of baptism. “Baptism,” he said, “is an official proclamation of something we’re supposed to know about ourselves: that we are citizens of a world beyond this world.

“It’s a world that we can’t see,” he told the congregation, which included students and faculty of the school and friends and family of those being baptized. “It’s a world that we can’t touch, but it’s where all of the most important things happen. All of the best things in life are things that we can’t see or touch like love, like friendship, like forgiveness, like connection with each other … and baptism is one of those gifts."

After the homily, Father VanDerveer invited SMSA Principal Patrick Gormley to “acclaim out loud the names of these beloved members of our community who have made the bold, brave and wonderful decision to seek baptism in Christ’s Church.”

As their names were called, the students — six boys in suits or khakis and shirts and ties and nine girls, all wearing white — gathered in front of the altar and then processed with Father VanDerveer to the baptismal font in the rear of the church. There, standing on a stepping stool, each was baptized, gingerly leaning over the font as Father VanDerveer gently placed handfuls of water upon their heads. Family members were invited to join their child or, in some cases, children, at the font.

The Mass was one of the school’s monthly themed Masses, each of which is planned by a different grade. That day’s “mission-themed” Mass was planned by the school’s fifth-graders, who served as lectors, choir members and altar servers. At the end of the day, the baptized students were given gifts from the school and parish.

Gormley, who became SMSA principal last fall after a 30-year teaching career, and is a graduate of St. Mary’s School in Ballston Spa and Saratoga Central Catholic School, said that the celebration of the sacrament was a reminder of why SMSA, now 141 years old, is such a special community.

“I’m very proud of our students, faculty and staff for their support of those receiving the sacrament and grateful for Father Scott’s leadership,” he said. “It was the ideal way to begin Catholic Schools Week.”

A project of the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Schools Week, which ran from Jan. 28-Feb. 3, is a celebration of Catholic education that takes place across the country each year during the last week of January.


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