100 Words

Bill Crittenberger"100 Words" serves as a self-framing for me to keep things short and sweet, an homage paid and recognition to an expression I hold near and dear: less is more. Each of these reflection pieces lands quite close to the 100-word mark and provides me an avenue through which to share with you, the O'Connell community, a reflection from week to week on any number of my thoughts, observations, opinions, takeaways, musings etc.—falling within the realm, and in no patterned way whatsoever (trust me), of the prosaic to the lyrical, the informational to the aspirational, the serious to the whimsical, the arcane to the profound, the secular to the spiritual...you get the picture.

My goal and hope is for you to get to know me as I get to know you, the members of the Bishop Denis J. O’Connell community, and all I ask from you is that you take less than a minute each week to read (more or less) 100 words. God’s Peace.


Welcome new families!

Please join me in heartily welcoming the newly enrolled students, and their parents/guardians, who will be coming to O’Connell next year—who, as of today, are being sent the Weekly KnightLine. We all know, and remember, what being new feels like—both the excitement and anticipation and the nervousness and uncertainly—and we also remember, indelibly, those who reached out to us with hospitality, warmth, and open arms when we were new. Please, veterans of Bishop O'Connell, reach out today or sometime soon to anyone you know whose son/daughter/family has been newly "Knighted" in extending a most gracious and profuse O’Connell welcome. And speaking of the spirit of community that we all know and appreciate about our school, this weekend's line-up exemplifies O’Connell at its best—the 5K/fun-run/walk event (virtual this year) which benefits our Expanded Services AND the school's annual crown jewel in combining kinesthetic service with fun—the 46th Annual Superdance—which, while modified appropriately in response to mitigation necessities, will witness yet again this year the gathering of hundreds of bopping, bouncing, shimmying, and sliding young people deeply and enjoyably committed to adding to the over $4.5 million raised since the mid-70s for cystic fibrosis research. Go Knights (and how!)!

A shout-out to our school's Chaplain
With the arrival today of the Triduum and the joy of Easter Sunday soon upon us, I feel it appropriate to recognize and give a shout-out to our school's chaplain, Father Gregory Thompson, for his tremendous, impactful, and devoted service to Bishop O'Connell, especially during this extremely challenging school year. Father Thompson plays a critical role on our administrative team as we work together to advance and promote the school’s Catholic identity. He has worked tirelessly and creatively during this time of necessary social distancing, ever-shepherding, shaping, and encouraging the spiritual and personal development of our fortunate-to-have-Father-in-their-lives students while providing fellowship, bonhomie, and guidance, as requested, to colleagues and the countless O'Connell parents with whom he has interacted. Earlier this week, in tending to his spiritual flock, Father reminded us of the school’s daily 7 a.m. Mass and further messaged, “I would encourage everyone to consider attending the Triduum services including Mass of the Lord's Supper Holy Thursday, the Good Friday Communion Service, and the Easter Vigil. These liturgies highlight the central mysteries of our Catholic faith...May all of us experience a renewed faith in Christ's passion, death, and resurrection.” Ever informing, focusing on, and being there for our school community, Father Thompson is an inspiration to us all, modeling what it means to be a faithful and authentic Catholic, and unfailingly transparent in his beliefs and his passion to evangelize. Known for his 25/8 availability to all those he serves, in a nutshell Father Thompson unabashedly loves and is thoroughly committed to his work as the school's Chaplain. Too numerous to annotate in but 100 words, Father’s contributions to this school community can best be captured in simply noting that the school that Bishop O’Connell is today would not be the school that Bishop O’Connell is today were it not for him. His humble, full-throated devotion to our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the work, relation-building, and modeling that said devotion calls for in the a chaplain is central to why indeed he is the extraordinarily effective spiritual and servant leader, and ministerial presence, that he is.
I wish you and your families a blessed Easter!
Unity - Now More Than Ever

My prayer in this week's Knights Intercessors prayer chain reads as follows: "Our thoughts, prayers, concern, and love go out to the Asian-American members of the Bishop O'Connell community. We are with and alongside you in unity."

How can any of us, whether Asian-American or not, understand this ineffable moment in which our brothers and sisters in the Asian-American community are facing unprecedented, in modern times, levels of discrimination, bias, bigotry, and, yes, in some cases violent assault and hate crimes? What would the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, do, or guide us to do, in this time of sorrow, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear? This afternoon I wrote to the O'Connell student body to say that, while I certainly don't have the answers, I do have a statement of intentionality to share that comes from me both as Head of School and as a fellow child of God, reflective of where I believe we must stand as a community rooted in Church teachings, the Catholic identity, and the life of Christ. If we are to walk alongside and be there for and with our Asian-American friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, and fellow human beings, we need to do so together. Unity begets unity. 

Read the entirety of my message to our students HERE.