100 Words

Bill CrittenbergerFrom our Head of School, Mr. Bill Crittenberger:

"100 Words" (which, in actual fact, is rarely less than 300 words in length) provides me an enjoyable weekly platform by which to communicate to the school community on numerous topic areas–reflections from week to week on my thoughts, observations, opinions, takeaways, musings, etc. that fall 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 aspiration is for you, my reader, to get to know me as I continue to get to know the Bishop O'Connell community, and all I ask from you is that you take a couple minutes every week to read and mull over my (more or less) 300 words.

God’s Peace.


Beautiful Days

Some days are simply better and/or more eventful than others. I think of our students in so saying, as today is their last day. Who among us doesn’t remember with glee that last day of school? Congrats, young’uns, and enjoy! Fill your next two-plus months with happy places and spaces and come back refreshed in the early fall ready to blaze a trail like none you’ve blazed before. This past weekend provided me with back-to-back “simply better/more eventful” days—and our good and gracious God and a sense of familial community were at the heart of each. Saturday, I trekked to Warren County to take part in the Diocesan Jubilee Festival, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Arlington. The kickoff to this event was an outdoor Mass with Bishop Burbidge as the celebrant, and with upwards of 50 of his brother priests alongside him—including O’Connell’s own Fr. McShurley.  An estimated crowd of 7,000 people attended, and it was telling of the richness, diversity, and inclusion of those who choose to be parishioners in this Diocese that significant elements of the Mass were conducted in Spanish, and sprinkled at one point with intentions read in Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog. O’Connell represented wonderfully, as in attendance were faculty/staff, students, families and alumni. Being among such a huge crowd inspired me greatly and found me thinking, in awe, about Jesus’ ministry, and of Him preaching to throngs of people. What a powerful and profoundly moving experience Mass that afternoon was for me! But the weekend didn’t stop there. Sunday was my precious granddaughter’s Baptism—a beautiful, sacred event that evoked in me a feeling of enormous elation, contentment, and inner-peace. Talk about an impossible-not-to-feel closeness and presence of God! While I remember clearly the amazing feeling of being the father of the child baptized (four times!), being the granddad of the precious baby being baptized was equally joyful, for once again—32, 30, 28, and 26 years removed—the Lord’s presence, love, blessing, and protection cascaded over me in knowing and in feeling His infinitely loving presence enveloping completely this sweet baby girl. I have found myself at random times the past couple days in a perma-grin—beaming about the weekend past and deeply appreciative of the knowledge that while every day truly is a gift, some gifts are simply better and/or more eventful than others. Have a great summer, rising 9th-12th graders, and do make the most of every day. See you in August. Go Knights!

The D-Word

I don’t ever recall my mom saying that she was “disappointed” in me, but standing (for me) as a never far removed part of her and my remarkably loving, trusting, and caring relationship was the dread that I knew I would feel had she needed to use that word, “disappointed”: the D-Word. And trust me, while I was pretty much a good and responsible kid, there were plenty of times during my youth when my actions or inactions rightly would have led my mom to being disappointed in me. As now, with adult eyes, I think back on my relationship with my mother (who passed 44 years ago) and reflect on how never once (truly, never once) in my lifetime did she fall short or miss a parental obligation or commitment. She was there for me every step of the way, and I believe all seven of my siblings would say the same as well. It was because of mom’s consistent and explicit love and attentiveness that I never, ever wanted to disappoint her—a beautiful and simple quid pro quo. Wishing never to disappoint that other person stems as well from knowing that he/she would do anything, and I mean anything, for you—take a bullet, step in front of a bus, etc.—a blissfully reassuring sensation that resides at the very heart of this most rare of relationships. Christ dying an excruciating death on the Cross for each of us is the ultimate sacrifice, so why would we ever do something, anything, to disappoint Him? And yet we will, and do, disappoint—for we as humans very much are broken. Doing anything not to disappoint our Heavenly Father, and yet ultimately, as humans, falling short of that mark and making mistakes galore, it is in the asking of the Lord for His forgiven and in earnestly committing to doing better each and every new day that we find ourselves in the most blessed of relationships with Him.

A chance to compete fairly

“All I wish for is a chance to compete fairly.” Yesterday, Major League Baseball (MLB) did something astoundingly jolting to some and “it’s about time” to others in announcing that from this point forward the individual batting and pitching statistics compiled by players of the Negro League, 1920-1948, would be integrated into the MLB record book, meaning, for example, that Josh Gibson now has supplanted Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb as the all-time leader in OPS and Batting Average, respectively. For those out there who are having trouble wrapping their heads around this new reality (likely not able to see in their mind’s eye the players of the Negro League as being on-par with those of Major League Baseball), I offer the following three data points to help (more than) convince you: 1) I heard in conversation with my own ears about 20 years ago from the then-President of the Baseball Hall of Fame that the offseason barnstorming teams comprised of Negro League greats won far more games than they lost over a 20-year stretch—1920-1940–in playing against comparably comprised MLB-great barnstormers; or this: 2) soon after Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues in 1947, Black players, being brought into the MLB slowly but surely over the next two decades by the National League (not so by the American League, whose ownership and/or management was far more hesitant for many, many years to bring in non-White players) began to dominate the MVP voting in that League—over a 21-year stretch, for example, from 1949-1969, 16 National League MVPs were Black (14) or Latino (2), with 12 different players being the recipients of these 16 MVPs; and lastly: 3) as the National League brought far more players of color into the MLB in the ‘50s and ‘60s (most of whom were Black but with some Latino representation as well), the National League came to absolutely dominate the annual “mid-summer classic” All-Star game between the best players from the National League and the best from the American League—as in fact over a three decade span, 1950-1979, the All-Star team from the National League won 82 percent of these best vs. best competitions, including an astounding 19 of 20 during one particular two-decade stretch. Earlier today, 270 Bishop O’Connell seniors graduated from this fine, warm, and loving institution, each now on his/her way. Here’s to the world that they’re heading into being a place where having the chance to compete fairly is a reality, not a hope. “All I wish for is a chance to compete fairly.”