The School reveled in welcoming Bishop Burbidge to campus two days ago (Tuesday) when he joined us on his annual visit to O’Connell to celebrate Mass; tour segments of the school—to include the Trinidad construction site where, come late spring, a beautiful chapel and 14 classrooms will be fully completed, and stopping in on and conversing at some length with the students in a couple classrooms; have lunch with and get to know senior class leaders; and bless the School’s newest additions, the Plaza, highlighted by its centerpiece, the Holy Family statue, and the Atrium—a space that His Excellency commended for its openness, warmth, and cascading sunlight. I invited Bishop Burbidge to return to O’Connell any time, announced or otherwise, perhaps as a guest lecturer or in teaching a class or running a seminar, as of all his many gifts, clearly he is a teacher at heart, exceedingly comfortable with and uplifted and animated by being around young people, and they him.
"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.
Today is the 51st anniversary of the passing of my dad, Colonel Dale Jackson Crittenberger, who, but 42 years old and blessed with a remarkable wife, Pookie, and 8 beautiful children, died in battle in Vietnam when his command helicopter and another American helicopter collided on September 17, 1969—a moment in time that has shaped my, and our, lives every day since. I share this with you not to evoke lament—although who among you in reading these words isn’t shaking his or her head reflexively and whispering, “what an absolute shame.” No, my call for you, as well as for me, is that each of us cherish and take full advantage of every day, as life is such a gift and as we must seize the opportunity in going about our day and our interactions with others to reflect on and support explicitly the dignity, sanctity, and worth of every individual—celebrating our shared commonality and the unity and oneness of the human spirit. We love you, Dad, and miss you terribly every day.
As I write this inaugural post, here on Friday, 9/11/2020, I think back to a lot of things from that actual day 19 years ago and about a lot of things from today and, figuratively, our many tomorrows. I commented during this morning’s announcements, in commemorating today’s anniversary of that still ineffably horrific day, that on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001, my wife and I gathered our then young children (who are now 22, 24, 27, and 28 years old) and went to church—knowing in our collective heart and soul that only within that sacred space could we hope to gain any sense of peace or respite from the blistering cacophony, massive sadness, and withering uncertainty of the day.
God, ever there for us, is everywhere.