The doors to Holy Angels’ completely renovated, state-of-the-art auditorium opened wide on April 19 -- just in time for Grandparents’ Day and the Easter Liturgy. AHA President Melinda Hanlon and Principal Jean Miller beamed with joy as they cut the ribbons at both sets of doors to celebrate the reopening of the auditorium and music wing. Long-awaited updates include improved acoustics, lighting, seats, curtain, stage, floor, and technology. The refreshed music wing includes a new vestry for visiting clergy and welcome updates to the choral room and offices.
“It’s faith that brings us all here today,” President Hanlon said as she welcomed everyone to the first gathering in the new auditorium, including grandparents of members of the Class of 2023, and those watching the livestream. She quoted Blessed Mother Theresa Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, saying, “If the dear Lord wants to call something into life, He also always gives the means for that to happen.”
Hanlon thanked the many people who were instrumental in bringing the auditorium project to fruition. She began with the School Sisters, AHA’s foundresses and sponsors, acknowledging that AHA is their school. She recognized the donors; the AHA Board of Trustees, including Chairperson Raphaela Giampiccolo and immediate past chair S. Sharon Slear, SSND. S. Sharon was involved in the initial planning for the renovation project.
Hanlon also acknowledged S. Mary Foley, SSND, who was liaison for the installation of the sound and light systems; the administration, faculty, staff, and students; parent-run organizations; advancement, finance, and maintenance staff; Campus Ministry leaders Kathy Sylvester and Maryanne Miloscia; architect Jerry Rubino; Project Manager Raymond Smith; Glenn Vanas and Stephanie Brex of Vanas Construction; consultant Theresa Shubeck; and the performing arts staff and student performers.
Principal Jean Miller, in turn, thanked President Hanlon for the work she invested in the successful, extensive renovation.
The auditorium closed in June 2022 so the construction crew could focus on the plans developed by DiCara/Rubino. This portion of the school had not been updated since the building was constructed in 1965, and the space was in need of a full transformation. The school community immediately missed the space, where everyone comes together for Mass, presentations, Open House, concerts, dramas, and more. Large gatherings were held in the gym while the auditorium was closed.
Bishop Michael Saporito blessed the gleaming new spaces as he presided over the morning’s Mass. His homily deftly blended news of a burgeoning mental health program led by grandmothers in Zimbabwe, the message of hope that wells from “The Road to Emmaus,” and the way grandparents let us know we are loved.
Saporito pulled news of “The Friendship Bench” from current events, noting that the scarcity of mental health professionals led a doctor in Zimbabwe to recruit grandmothers. These intrepid women, who are custodians of local culture and wisdom, sit on park benches with those who seek counseling. Clients receive the message that they are loved and respected, and gain solid, practical advice.
Saporito distilled the Gospel message, “The Road to Emmaus,” saying, “It’s a story of faith lost and hope restored.”
He noted that the two apostles who encounter Jesus, but do not immediately recognize him, are leaving Jerusalem downcast.
“They thought that everything was over,” Saporito said. Although the men tell the story of the Resurrection in great detail, they are still walking away. “The facts alone failed to restore hope,” the celebrant said, noting the necessity of uniting information with inspiration.
“You can’t have hope when you sit by yourself…Community does that,” he said.
He commented on the love and perspective grandparents provide, concluding, “’The Friendship Bench’ is as close as your grandparents.”