Monday, October 5, 2020

Sars-CoV-2, the Virus, and Covid-19, the disease in 2020 - Originally posted September 8th, 2020

 Who would have thought when we began seeing more of each other in 2002 and then gathering other classmates for our first reunion in 2009 that we would live to see a worldwide pandemic? We don't know how many, but doubtless many classmates are no longer with us. Carlo Cannucci whom I met again after many years in 2002 passed away March 30, 2010 after a valiant battle with cancer. Though many of us feel healthy, even fairly vigorous, we know that we are in a later season of life. The pandemic has been a nasty reminder. All the more reason for us to continue to strive to "do good" and to consider ourselves as connected to our family, neighbours, and all of society. Peace to you, your family, your friends, colleagues and all those whom you meet. May we not lose too many opportunities to lighten another's burden. 
Gilles Surprenant

The "SPIRIT" of St Pius X High School today - Originally posted May 29th, 2017

A year ago on Saturday, May 28th 2016 we, the Class of 1966, celebrated our 50th Anniversary of graduation from Saint Pius X High School. We continue to remember and to celebrate with gratitude all that we received during our years at "Pius", those who poured themselves out in loving service to us, and all that - by the grace of God - we have been able to experience and live, to endure and to overcome, and to accomplish and love in the course of all these years. We continue on our useful and meaningful course and renew our wills to build the future and to be of service today, carried as we are by the power of love which has its origin in the living God and which continues to find its home in "women and men of good will".

The Christian Brothers of Ireland and the Sisters of Saint Anne brought to St Piux X High School a spirit that was proactive, hopeful, eager to teach and learn, kind and understanding, and enthusiastic for life, and most of all, loving. They inspired the lay teachers and staff to join in that spirit, and all together, they not only equipped us for life, but they also propelled us on the positive course that helped us bridge the many chasms / challenges of life to the regions into which we ventured to make the lives that have been and continue to be ours.

Each of our four years the Falcon Yearbook Staffs sensed that spirit and dedicated their year's Falcon to bearers of that spirit.

1963 - to the Christian Brothers of Ireland, founders of St Pius X High School. "founded in Ireland in 1802 by Venerable Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice. Today, almost 4,000 Brothers conduct schools in fourteen countries on four continents. The Brothers came to North America eighty years ago. They now administer almost forty schools in the United States and Canada, and new ones are being established each year."

Perhaps in a previous year or a subsequent year there was a dedication to the Sisters of Saint Anne, partners with the Brothers in establishing and developing St Pius X High School.

1964 - to Father John Brayley, Chaplain and leader in the Christopher Movement - "Ever encouraging individuality as well as scholarship, he has shown us the right path to the discovery of our place in Christian society and has aided us in gaining a proper knowledge and realization of ourselves."

1965 - to Brother William E. Drayton, Principal - "When Brother Drayton arrived in the summer of 1959 to take charge of his new school, there was neither building for his pupils nor residence for the members of his Community. It was in March, 1960 that Brother Drayton saw his four hundred and seventy-one pupils settled in the present building. It was not until June of the same year that the Brothers were able to move into their monastery."

1966 - to Sister Mary Bernita, S.S.A., Principal - "Sister Bernita watched Saint Pius X High School grow from its very foundations to its present state. In September, 1959, her pupils were housed in five different buildings. In spirit of this disadvantage, her genial administration fostered a unifying spirit, an IGNIS ARDENS, which is still a characteristic of the school. Now, after seven years, more than nine hundred girl-graduates, imbued with the ardour of their school principal, have taken their place in the world as homemakers, nurses, educators, and business women."

Those Falcon staffs, like all of us at the time, were perhaps overly optimistic about the future, but so were those entire generations of the 1960's before the full brunt of secularization, globalization, and relativism subjected humanity to the manipulation of "vested interests" and deprived people of known and reliable anchors.

We have not been without faults or failures, but we were also equipped not to accept defeat, but to get up again and keep faith in the One from whom we come and to Whom we are returning. We may not all have been daily communicants, nor even Sunday practitioners; however, we have remained - I believe - children of God who believe in God and, to the extent of our ability or degree of our will to date, who have come to love God or at the very least hold God in deep respect and high regard, as well as his Church on Earth, of which we acknowledge ourselves to be its imperfect members.

Today Pope Francis exemplifies the best of the human spirit that, augmented by the power of love and hopefulness that come from God, realizes that we don't need to be perfect before we reach out in loving care to others, especially to those who have been pushed "to the peripheries of life and society". We who were launched into life by the Brothers of Ireland and Sisters of Saint Anne have grown in our ability and desire to love one another and care for others. We have not surrendered to the "prophets of doom" as Pope John XXIII called those who take a defeatist view of the world, but have remained hopeful and proactive in our outlook and in our personal and professional lives.

To catch a glimpse of the fire that enflamed St Pius X High School, which now motivates Pope Francis, and which he proposes to all of humanity, watch the first ever TED TALK given by a pope.

2006 to 2016 - 10 years of seeking out classmates - Originally posted February 14th, 2017

Hello dear former classmates of St Pius X High School - Girls & Boys - beneficiaries of the dedication of the Sisters of Saint Anne and Christian Brothers of Ireland.

Good memories that continue to give life

Undoubtedly we all have some not so positive or perhaps even quite negative memories from out four or less years at St. Pius X High School on Papineau Avenue in Montreal. After all, we were teenagers, although at the time I didn't feel like a teenager at all. As I recall it, that term was not so readily thrown about as it later came to be.

I remember the good brothers addressing us as "Gentlemen" and the good sisters addressing our schoolmates from the "Girls' side" as "Ladies". Our dress and behavior reflected those addresses and, I felt then and still feel today, so did our attitudes and feelings.

Perhaps it is not too late today for us of the "older generation" to pass on or "pay forward" those remarkably positive attitudes and strategies employed by the brothers and sisters and required of the lay teachers and staff at that time.

Respect for others, even for the young, can still be employed with good effect, and we can carry on the good that benefited us so many years ago and continue to enrich our lives today. Away with the negative and cynical attitudes and "in" with the positive, confident, and hopeful attitudes brought to Earth by the Child of Bethlehem, the man of Nazareth, the Crucified and Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

A period of fun meetings, organizing, and joyful reunions

Way back in 2002 some of us bumped into each other who hadn't seen the other or heard from each other since graduation in 1966; while others in clumps of two or three did maintain contact over the years. A "ball began to roll" as it were in 2006 and, by 2007 deliberate decisions were made to seek out more classmates and think eventually of having a reunion.

Planning began in earnest in April 2009 and our first reunion happened fairly quickly at St Luke Parish on the grounds of the church, rectory, and garden on a beautiful, sunny Saturday September 26, 2009. For this first reunion we were only guys but 37 of 40 came and it was simply wonderful. It was very timely because over the next few years we lost some of our classmates who moved on into the great adventure of eternity.

August 28, 2010 we had another reunion, much less formal, in Ricky Doyle's beautiful back yard, and this time, we enjoyed the company of some of the girls, classmates, and a few companions.

September 24, 2011 we had another, more formal, reunion at the banquet hall on Henri Bourassa in Ville St Laurent with more guys and gals classmates whom we had managed to find, and the atmosphere was so enthusiastic and positive that we already began to dream of a "50th Anniversary Reunion" and the planning continued in earnest.

The "reunion team" grew and increased in number and over the next five years had lots of fun meeting over meals in restaurants, occasionally in a home, and slowly worked towards our big goal of our 50th Anniversary reunion.

The happy day came and we were almost as excited as we were for our grad ball back in 1966!

Saturday, May 28th, 2016 we held our "St. Pius X High School 50th Anniversary Reunion" at Vino Rosso Banquet Hall on Henri Bourassa, where we had five years earlier had a smaller 45th Anniversary Reunion. Sidney Freund and his Band provided the entertainment and we had quite a night of it! Classmates came from in and out of the province, one from as far as Vancouver, and from south of the border. We enjoyed table fellowship, the meal, drinks and chatting in circles here and there, joining in the dancing, going out for some air and quiet chatting, and overall reminiscing, fun, and sharing. At various points we had some brief formal presentations to highlight the moment. Good memories to add to our memories from the past.

The end of a wondrous period of enthusiastic activity

We sense great satisfaction in having found one another, in having gathered, brainstormed, hatched projects, and in accomplishing our goals.

Now the time has come for us to "return to normal" as it were. We are all delighted to find that we still have the freedom to take initiatives, to get together, and to enjoy one another's company.

Feel free to peruse and enjoy previous posts and the photo albums.

Peace to one and all in this new year 2017 as we quickly approach "Mardi Gras" and another season of Lent and its twin the Easter Season.... Before you know it we'll be enjoying another Spring and Summer seasons.

May you and your loved ones ever know the love, mercy, and peace of God!

Reflection and Prayer - Literary Text - Originally posted May 31st, 2016


 St. Pius X High School 50th Anniversary Reunion

Literary Version

September 1962 to June 1966

1962 was only 17 years after World War II and 9 years after the Korean War – a time marked by an acceleration of social change in the West as well as in the whole world. The war speeded up technological advancements and in the absence of men gone to war many women discovered their ability to accomplish remunerated labour and to enter professions. The post war years also witnessed profound changes in social values, trends, and behaviours. Society became more mobile and forms of communications evolved, such as expanding the reach of free phone calls and reasonable rates for a wider range of long distance calls.

The 1950’s saw the emergence in the West of a greatly expanded middle class made comfortable by the manufacturing revolution the war had engendered. This affluence contributed to the emergence of a new demographic – the teenage years – as parents increasingly sought to spend more of their new earnings on their children. In the 1960’s teenagers continued to manifest their presence through social trends like the proliferation of music groups appealing to them and seeking their favour.

Conscious of the rapid changes worldwide and desiring the Roman Catholic Church to continue to present to the modern world the timeless relevance of Jesus Christ and his message for “Peace on Earth”, Pope John XXIII in 1959 called an ecumenical council, the first in almost a century. Our high school years coincided with this historic Second Vatican Council as it took place from October 11, 1962 to December 8, 1965.

The Sisters of Saint Anne who were responsible for our girls’ school, the Christian Brothers of Ireland who were responsible for our boys’ school, and our chaplains Father John Brayley (1959-1964) and David Gourlay (1964-1970) shared with us their insights into this time of change. Three days after the Council began we witnessed the Cuban Missile Crisis from October 14 to 28, 1962. On November 22nd 1963 we probably all remember sitting in class as our principals announced on the public address system, ending the school day early, that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. The 1960’s witnessed more dramatic events.

American astronauts circled the globe and before the ‘60’s ended they landed on the moon. The Viet Nam War developed as did the protest of many young Americans – many of whom came to Canada. Canada got a new flag under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and our school raised it in solidarity with all of Canada on February 15, 1965. The American Civil Rights Movement began to loom larger as we heard songs that later in the late ‘60’s became associated with the Hippie Movement which proposed to be the new normal as we all went to college and university and witnessed campus revolutions all over the world as 1970 came.  

While at St. Pius X we enjoyed a variety of music from American groups like The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Animals, Peter Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel and such British invaders as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Dave Clark 5, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and Petula Clark.

In addition to “home movies” projected in the auditorium at the end of term exams, some of us – with parental permission – went on school outings. In May or June 1965 we rode buses to the Parliament in Ottawa, to Upper Canada Village, and finished with a boat tour of the Thousand Islands with an explanation of how the construction of the St. Laurence Seaway had flooded a number of small Ontario towns. We went to downtown movie houses to see movies such as the Ten Commandments and the Sound of Music.

Our 4 years at St. Pius X High School for Girls and Boys gave us some excellent mentors in the Sisters of Saint Anne, the Christian Brothers of Ireland, and our numerous lay teachers. We loved some of them and we still remember them very fondly; others perhaps were not quite so memorable. Sadly, a few were not so great, particularly for a few of us who experienced anything from simple harassment to traumatic memories.

Nonetheless, we made friends, sometimes for life. We were profoundly marked, mostly for the better.

50 years is a long time; yet in some ways it almost feels like yesterday. We have lived lives with incredible moments and achievements as well as all the ordinary seasons of life. We have contemplated the beauty, we have felt the pain, we pushed the boundaries, we traveled the globe, and we scrutinized the heavens with our many questions.

We have contributed to society, we have touched countless lives, we made too many mistakes, and over the years we have fallen down and picked ourselves up innumerable times. We have affirmed our faith in God through Jesus Christ or, alternatively for some of us, we have given our life meaning by grounding our life projects in the value of the human person; while still others have taken roads less traveled.

There may be others, but at least one among us, Robert Scully, has become a media icon, a face and voice seen, heard, and even trusted worldwide. We have founded families, we have explored our humanity, we have shared the adventure with loved ones, and we have built legacies.

We left behind the naiveté we shared with the rest of society in the 1960’s, which was best symbolized in the Expo 67 World Fair in Montreal. It was an optimistic conviction that our generation would soon resolve all of humanity’s problems with advancements in science, technology, and diplomacy.

As world events rudely awakened us, we found that the world, life, and humanity require collaborative not armchair solutions. With time we also discovered that life and its mysteries contain an inherent simplicity that points to our meaning and purpose. We have been blessed to acquire some wisdom and we still have time to share what we have acquired with those coming after us, if they are willing to receive it.

We would like to propose to you that “The best is yet to come.” It may be a Frank Sinatra song, but this idea of open ended hopefulness may have first come to our awareness at Cana in Galilee of Palestine, in the Holy Land, when Jesus turned 160 gallons of water into the best wine the people at that wedding feast had ever tasted. Jesus gave a sign that with God the best is always “yet to come” and that in Him, Jesus of Nazareth, God had come to Earth to inaugurate a new era. The Brothers and Sisters and many of the lay women and men who taught us shared the conviction that this is true, that Jesus is who He claimed to be.

As Canadians we have been privileged until now to enjoy the freedom to adhere to this conviction and make it our own, or to walk another path. Whatever path we have chosen, we have probably all come to know that we are part of something far bigger than ourselves, and our freedom is of great value. Shall we pray?

 “Father in Heaven and Creator of us all, thank You for the time we have so gratefully received and lived until now. There rises within us a vibrant “Yes!” to all that is yet to come. Each in our own way we desire to put all that we have in service to our loved ones and to our world. May our poor efforts effectively serve your powerful work lifting up each person and all of humanity. Bless us O Lord and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Reflection and Prayer - Audio recording prayer - Originally posted May 31st, 2016


 St. Pius X High School 50th Anniversary Reunion


 Prayer Oral version as presented at the Reunion by Father Gilles Surprenant

Reflection and Prayer - Audio recording reflection - Originally posted May 30th, 1966


 St. Pius X High School 50th Anniversary Reunion


 Reflection Oral version as presented at the Reunion by Father Gilles Surprenant

Our 50th Organizing Committee presented by Mike Garofalo - Originally posted May 30th, 2016


 St. Pius X High School 50th Anniversary Reunion


Our 50th Organizing Committee by Mike Garofalo 

Sars-CoV-2, the Virus, and Covid-19, the disease in 2020 - Originally posted September 8th, 2020

 Who would have thought when we began seeing more of each other in 2002 and then gathering other classmates for our first reunion in 2009 th...