Cardinal Celebrates Catholic Schools Week Mass and Blesses Early Childhood Learning Center in Poughkeepsie


Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass with Holy Trinity School students and staff in Poughkeepsie before traveling a short distance to tour and bless the Holy Trinity School Annex at St. Peter’s early childhood learning center during National Catholic Schools Week.

The cardinal’s homily touched on three topics–Catholic Schools Week, the blessing of the Holy Trinity annex and the Feast of St. Blaise Feb. 3.

“This gives us a good chance to thank God for the gift of our Catholic schools,” Cardinal Dolan said of Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 30-Feb. 5.

“Are they ever special to us? Are they ever a great gift? And we want to thank God for all the people that make them possible.”

Cardinal Dolan was joined at Mass by Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco; Father Anthony Mizzi-Gili Jr., pastor of Holy Trinity; Father Joseph McLafferty, dean of Dutchess County and pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, LaGrangeville; Father John Wilson, parochial vicar of St. Kateri Tekakwitha; Father Michael McLoughlin, pastor of St. Columba, Hopewell Junction; Father Gamini Fernando, retired priest who resides at Holy Trinity; and Father Stephen Ries, the cardinal’s priest secretary.

Holy Trinity’s early childhood center at the former St. Peter’s School is located about four miles from Holy Trinity school and church. Holy Trinity has a combined 400 children at its two sites. The new annex houses UPK students from public school districts—Hyde Park, Wappingers and Arlington—as well as Holy Trinity’s kindergarten and first-grade students.

“This school is great enough, but now we’re even a little bigger with our new child center over at St. Peter’s in the annex, which I look forward to blessing right after Mass,” the cardinal said. “This is really good for us because it shows our confidence and our hope in the future of Catholic schools. 

“We’re just not grateful for the past. We’re counting on our Catholic schools being around for a long time and the new blessing of the annex is a sign of that.” 

Cardinal Dolan closed by sharing the story of St. Blaise, a bishop from Armenia who loved caring for the sick and once saved a young boy who was choking.

“People began to go to him for help whenever they had problems with their throat or really any kind of sickness and Bishop Blaise, now St. Blaise, became renowned in the life of the Church for helping sick people especially those who had problems with their throat. So that’s why we have the tradition of St. Blaise Day of blessing throats,” the cardinal said.

At the conclusion of Mass, Cardinal Dolan, Bishop Colacicco and the priests blessed the throats of those attending Mass. Cardinal Dolan also answered questions from two students, including one who asked about when he first discovered his priestly vocation, and received early birthday gifts from students before leaving for the annex where he visited with students and staff, and was treated to lunch and birthday cake. The cardinal’s 72nd birthday is Feb. 6.

Kathleen Spina, principal of Holy Trinity for five years, told CNY the annex opened for the 2020-2021 school year and is surprised by enrollment numbers but not by the program’s success.

“It’s very exciting,” said Ms. Spina, who said she couldn’t do it without her great staff.

“We’re totally blessed to have Cardinal Dolan come. He’s a wonderful inspiration to all the children,” she added. 

Michael Deegan, superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese, attended Mass and toured the Holy Trinity chool annex with Cardinal Dolan and members of his archdiocesan education staff.

“Catholic Schools Week is not just a week to celebrate what we are and what we do, but what our mission is and what message we send to the country that our schools are alive and well and are really transforming the lives of children and their parents, which is really the mission of Catholic education,” Deegan said.

“So we’re very happy to be here because it’s a very special week for us and the fact His Eminence chose to come here symbolizes the optimism and hope we have for our schools.”