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Blog: The Irish Experience

Welcome to The Irish Experience

This Blog will serve as an insider’s perspective on what it means to be a member of the Camden Catholic community. Both students and faculty will participate by sharing posts on a regular basis that discuss academics, extra-curricular activities and spiritual insight gained from their Irish Experience. Read on, and if you have questions or comments feel free to post below. 

October 1, 2018

The Bishop’s Mass: A Camden Catholic Tradition

Sam Kasilowski, CCHS Class of 2019

There is something special about Bishop’s Mass every single year. There is a mood of excitement, perhaps even reverence, that such a beloved figure would grace the school with his presence. Listening to the Bishop’s homily, I was struck by how eloquent of a speaker he was. At first he described the Thailand cave rescue, and I was unsure how it related to God, but I was captivated nonetheless. Then, the Bishop described how the coach of the trapped soccer team used the power of prayer to lead his team through the difficult 17 days they were trapped in the cave. The applications of prayer in my every day life became more apparent after this homily.

Everyone in the school was grateful the Bishop took time out of his very busy schedule to come speak to us. The entire student body was participating in the Mass, and I became filled with a strong pride in my school. With someone as important as the Bishop visiting, the entire school united and came together as one. I was so proud to be a student at Camden Catholic, and I know the Bishop’s message rang true for every member of the school.

September 26, 2018

Finding solace and service in Cinque Terre

In the summer of 2018, senior Mia Nixon traveled to Cinque Terrre, a UNESCO world heritage site in Italy to participate in a variety of service projects in the region. After her service she explored other parts of Italy, which included Vatican City. “It was truly a blessing to be able to visit the global heart of the Catholic faith, and represent the Irish,” says Mia. She describes her trip below.

Mia Nixon, CCHS Class of 2019

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s hidden gems located along the Italian Riviera coastline known for its pastel-colored houses on terraced cliffs. Although the region is full of beauty, the Cinque Terre faces environmental challenges such as deadly mudslides and rock falls. Through a travel company for students, I was able to help the Cinque Terre community last July providing a variety of service over the course of 3 days with 20 students from across the United States. Each morning our day began maintaining sections of the Cinque Terre National Park clearing out any debris covering its hiking trail that overlooks breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Our group also repainted an elementary school, and rebuilt historic walls of a monastery as well as work in its large garden.

This trip allowed me to not only admire the Cinque Terre, but to also leave an impact through service. By talking to locals who I met in restaurants, little shops, or passing by during our service, I gained a deep insight into Italy’s culture, and even learned some of the language- Prego!  Helping the Cinque Terre was very meaningful, and I loved every moment of this experience, but my favorite part was the other students on my trip. I met a great group of girls from Texas, Massachusetts, and New York, who had a passion for service just like me, and we became close friends over the trip. It’s been two months since our trip, but we still communicate with each other everyday.

September 18, 2018

To be a better writing teacher one must strive to be a better writer

Donna Maccherone, English faculty

To be a better writing teacher one must strive to be a better writer, and to become a better writer one must write. That is a simple dictum I follow. This summer I followed it all the way to a farm in the Tuscan countryside near the town of San Gimignano. For five days I had the privilege to write with a view of sage and silver olive groves and vineyards glazed by the lemony sunshine. It was like living in a painting. At the same time I was challenged to listen carefully—to my instructor and to my surroundings—and to craft a response on the spot, a task that teachers often give to students but rarely demand of themselves. Meeting that challenge renewed my appreciation for this enterprise we call learning to write… and gave me some nifty new ideas for the Creative Writing Club!

Of course I couldn’t be so close to the city of Florence and not stop there for a few days to take in all the art and architecture I could lay my eyes on. Michelangelo and Raphael, Bernini and Brunelleschi. The names alone are evocative. Color plates of their works in those big old library books or as digital reproductions on a screen are beautiful to behold, but to walk right up to the Baptistery doors or to circle David in The Academia is a different experience entirely. Being on the sites of such greatness feeds the intellect and piques the imagination. One day I had lunch on the very street where Dante lived before his exile. It was rather unreal. I usually avoid the now-overused word awesome, but for Italy it is la parola perfetta.

Back at school I settle in with books, the next best thing. Until that time when we can take to the road, we read and sustain ourselves with the vicarious experience. Dostoevsky and Dickens, Sophocles and Shakespeare, and so many others are our tour guides. As we start another year together, prepared to gather up knowledge, our amulet against ignorance, I am reminded of the essayist Francis Bacon, who wrote a great deal not only about travel but also about other modes of learning. His advice is tried and true: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” So we fill ourselves with reading, confer and converse to make us ready for deeper understanding, and write to clarify our thinking. Then we pack our bags again and go.