In preparation for a school-wide celebration of the Feast of Saint Joseph, Notre Dame High School, West Haven, Connecticut, observed Holy Cross Heritage Week from March 16 to 20. Each morning during the week, a Notre Dame Senior shared a reflection with the entire student body on the influence education in the Holy Cross Tradition has had on his life since his freshman year. These sentiments are echoes of those that you will hear at each of the schools sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross in the United States and throughout the world.
Colton Kopcik ‘15
During Holy Cross Heritage Week here at Notre Dame of West Haven, we are invited to be mindful of God’s presence in our lives. I have learned throughout my four years here that God and faith are the only constants in my life. Things change, people grow apart, you move on, but God is always here. Thanks to our Holy Cross Heritage at Notre Dame, I have come to this realization. We need God’s presence during difficulty times in our lives, but we must also to notice his presence even when life is going well. Giving thanks to God for the gifts we have received is important because it is very easy to put your faith on a back burner when things are looking up or when something seems more important. My Holy Cross education has taught me that my faith can be connected with other aspects of my life. Brief exercises like Morning Prayer in our school chapel and praying the Hail Mary before a football game allows my faith to be present to me daily. It does not have to be anything huge; just acknowledging God during the day strengthens our faith.
Alec Albright ‘15
Attending a school sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross has had a tremendous impact on my development as an individual. At Notre Dame High School, the influence of the Congregation of Holy Cross creates an environment unlike that in other schools From the classroom to the athletic fields, the mission and core values of a Holy Cross education are instilled in every ND student. Because of this, as an ND student, I have experienced people in my life holding me to a higher standard – especially in the ways I conduct myself and treat others.
The Congregation of Holy Cross puts an emphasis on serving others, and being a student at ND has definitely made me a person who enjoys and participates actively in serving my community. I have performed many hours of community service for and with ND, and service has helped me to become a more compassionate person. My community service has given me an expanded view and a greater understanding of the difficulties that other people face, even in our own community.
I am proud of, and grateful for, my background as a student at a Holy Cross school. My Holy Cross education has influenced me in many ways, and I know that it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Joseph Petrosino ‘15
I have found God and faith in my life through the sense of community that the Congregation of Holy Cross instills in us here at Notre Dame. Something we all tend to forget is the love we have in common with God. We can easily get tunnel vision and become focused on ourselves more than how we can help others. The Holy Cross Tradition here at ND is found in our commitment to service, and this becomes a very important part of being a Catholic and of being a Notre Dame Man. Be it donations in the Warm Knights’ Drive or volunteering time at a soup kitchen, helping others is the most direct way I personally get in touch with God. Through service, I have realized the truth behind Matthew 25, where we learn the best way to serve God is to help someone in need. As we are all God’s children, the strongest path of faith for me is helping those in need. My education in the Holy Cross Tradition has helped me find that path.
Zachary Cofrancesco ‘15
Over my four years, I’ve grown and developed in my faith and in my standing within our Notre Dame/Holy Cross community. Coming into Notre Dame, I was religious, for sure, but I never really knew what it meant to be a good Catholic. Last summer, I attended the Holy Cross Leadership Conference sponsored by the Holy Cross Institute, and it deepened my respect for my religion and appreciation for God. Although I do not fully understand everything, I can honestly say I have a better understanding of my faith and the Holy Cross Traditions that permeate life here at Notre Dame. God has played an extremely important role in my life, and, even when times get tough, he is always there for me. Oftentimes, I find myself asking God to do something for me, rather than thanking him for what I already have. I think thanking God is sometimes overlooked and many people forget to do this at times, but every now and then we should just take a moment to appreciate everything he has given us. God being a part of my life has made me a better person, and I know he will always be there for me and for everyone else who turns to him.
Anthony Coss ‘15
God is my sanity, my stability, my defense against stress. God is my provider and guide. I would be lost without God, and I was. During my sophomore year here, I lost my grandfather. When I lost him, my faith left as well. My grades did not fall, but my character did. I treated my family, friends, and teachers with no respect. When I lost God, I lost myself.
Luckily for me, my community did not give up on me. My family supported me, and helped me, but that was only half of my life. My greatest point of struggle was in school. Luckily for me, I was not discarded for my actions and attitudes.
My brothers looked out for me. They supported me and provided for me. Not a single one chastised me, even though I was obnoxious to them. They solidified my image of ND brotherhood, and how far it can go and how powerful it truly is, though it was not this group that pointed out my flaws. It was my teachers who addressed it.
I was amazed and startled to realize what kind of person I had become. I was rude and disrespectful and stopped caring for those around me. My teachers never threw it in my face, they simply explained I was better than I was acting. They helped me find myself and more importantly rediscover God in my life. I consider myself blessed to have come to Notre Dame. I never would have re-found myself or God in a public school. Public schools, and even some other Catholic schools, focus primarily on the brain of the student. Notre Dame, in the Holy Cross Tradition, focuses on my whole person. People at ND, especially my teachers, looked out for me. They helped me grow and move past struggles in my life so I could thrive. All of my successes belong to them. The Anthony Coss that achieved these successes was not one I was prepared to find without this school. I had to rely on the support of my brothers and teachers. I owe my successes and character and faith to my community here at ND. I may leave ND in two months, but ND will never leave me. The compassion, empathy, and care I was shown will stand the test of time and will continue to define me and my faith. The Holy Cross traditions and the education I was a part of here for the past four years have provided me more than anyone could understand. I have redefined my relationship with God, and I have redefined myself altogether. All of this is thanks to you, my classmates, peers, friends, and teachers. Thank you.