Photos by John Simitz
The morning of Sept. 6 marked a red-letter day in the history of Holy Infancy School, Bethlehem as the date marked the blessing of the new school in Southside Bethlehem.
The school moved across the street from Holy Infancy Church to the former SS. Cyril and Methodius School building next to Incarnation of Our Lord Church.
“It is a passing on of the tradition of the newer and beautiful building from SS. Cyril and Methodious to Holy Infancy,” said Father Andrew Gehringer, pastor of Holy Infancy.
“Holy Infancy is celebrating 125 years of continuous Catholic education, now at its third building.”
Father Gehringer explained the first two Holy Infancy Schools were located across the street from the parish, one of which was the original Bethlehem Catholic High School.
Jeanne Negron-Garcia, an alumna of Holy Infancy School and parishioner of Holy Infancy, is the new principal of Holy Infancy.
The morning began with a Mass at Incarnation of Our Lord celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert, who then presided at the blessing of the new school.
Concelebrating were Father Gehringer; Father David Kozak, pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord and Holy Ghost, Bethlehem; and Monsignor Robert Kozel, pastor emeritus of St. John the Baptist, Allentown.
Monsignor Kozel was assistant pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord (then SS. Cyril and Methodius) when the current school building – now home to Holy Infancy School – was built in the 1960s during the pastorate of the late Monsignor Felix LaBuda.
“Bishop Schlert talked about how God loves us,” Father Gehringer said, noting the day was a First Friday with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “He said Jesus loves us in all ways – teaching, healing and the sacraments.
“This place is really a gift from the tradition of Incarnation Parish and all the people who went before us.
“The hope I have for Holy Infancy moving forward and Catholic education on the Southside is due to the fact of the tremendous support we have been receiving from the Bishop, the Office of Education, Father Kozak and all the wonderful friends of Holy Infancy School.”
“Our theme of loving and serving one another was really reflected in Bishop Schlert’s message in the homily – Christ is here to love us, give us peace and show us his mercy,” Negron-Garcia said.
Negron-Garcia said students were so excited the Bishop was coming they worked all week on the songs the Holy Infancy School Choir was to sing at the Mass. Members of the Holy Infancy Parish Choir volunteered to practice with them.
As Bishop Schlert blessed the school, Monsignor Kozel and Franciscan Sister Virginelle Makos, a School Sister of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis (OSF), spoke to the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the cafeteria.
Sister Virginelle previously taught at SS. Cyril and Methodius and Holy Infancy schools, and is director of St. Francis Center for Renewal, Bethlehem.
“We ask the Lord to bless you with open hearts so you learn the things you need to,” Monsignor Kozel told the middle schoolers.
“At SS. Cyril and Methodius we had such a wonderful family spirit, a warm and loving atmosphere,” Sister Virginelle told students. “We also had a wonderful atmosphere at Holy Infancy.
She noted 27 priests and 26 religious sisters have been parish sons and daughters of Holy Infancy, and said maybe some current students would consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
“We are so blessed by the Bishop’s visit,” said Deacon Dr. Robert Fisher, eighth-grade teacher. Deacon Fisher serves SS. Philip and James, Phillipsburg, N.J., Diocese of Metuchen. He is a bilingual speech pathologist with Fisher Speech-Language-Literacy Consulting LCC, Phillipsburg.