Holy Family School hosts closing liturgy

Morgan Porter, an eight-grader at Holy Family School, and Alli Sargent, a second-grader, prepared to present the gifts of bread and wine at the closing Mass for Holy Family School May 27. The 91-year-old school on Poplar Level Road will close at the end of this school year. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)
Morgan Porter, an eight-grader at Holy Family School, and Alli Sargent, a second-grader, prepared to present the gifts of bread and wine at the closing Mass for Holy Family School May 27. The 91-year-old school on Poplar Level Road will close at the end of this school year. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Faculty, students, alumni and friends of Holy Family School gathered one last time for a school liturgy on May 27.

The 91-year old school at 3926 Poplar Level Road announced earlier this year that it will close at the end of this school year.

Father Harry Gelthaus, pastor of Holy Family and St. Stephen Martyr churches, said that even though “this is the last school Mass for Holy Family, we know that Jesus Christ is truly in our midst.”

In his homily, Father Gelthaus recalled a story about an auction hosted by a small town. One by one, items such as bicycles, paintings and furniture were sold to the highest bidder.
The auctioneer saved a dusty, old violin for last. No one wanted the aged musical instrument, Father Gelthaus said. Finally an elderly man approached the auctioneer, dusted off the violin, tightened the strings and began to play it.

“The people listened and they were spellbound,” he said. “They had never heard such beautiful music.”

The elderly man laid the violin back on the table and sat down. When the auctioneer resumed bidding, people clamored for a chance to win the violin.

“You see, the old man was a master violin player. And once the master touched the violin it became valuable,” he told the students.

“Do you realize everyone of you here has been touched by Jesus? You have been touched by the master’s hand,” he said.

Father Gelthaus said Jesus Christ had touched Holy Family School as well.

“For 90 years we have been here educating students. We have come to church to worship. We have made an impact in our society. And it’s difficult, isn’t it,
when our school closes? It makes our hearts very heavy,” he said.

He said Jesus tells us, “do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God, have faith in me.”

“He is telling us even though things are changing and they might not be the way we want them to be, he is still in charge and he is going to make everything okay,” he said.

Father Gelthaus told the students that no matter where they go to school next year that God will continue to watch over them.

He noted that 63 of the students will continue on with him at St. Stephen Martyr School.

In anticipation of Holy Family School’s closing, its alumni association hosted two events last weekend for alumni and friends. Saturday afternoon, former students and their families
were invited to walk through the school to reminisce and visit with other alumni and teachers. Later that evening, the alumni group also hosted a reunion party at the Fraternal Order
of Police Lodge on Price Lane.

Marilyn Jean (Cole) Hollancamp, a 1953 Holy Family graduate, said she attended the reunion in the hopes of catching up with old classmates and remembering her school days. She said she fondly remembers the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who educated her and said she “wished more of them taught today.”

Sarah Hovecamp Diffenderfer, a 2001 graduate and member of the alumni group, said she views Holy Family School as part of her family and is heartbroken at its closure.

“It’s so much more than education. It’s the morals, values,” Diffenderfer said at Saturday’s reunion. “I attribute this place to the person I am today.”

The last day of school is tomorrow, May 30.

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