Teaching priest blesses Pacelli’s first-day classes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 1999

Father Tim Biren walked from room to room in the Catholic high school, robed and carrying holy water.

Thursday, September 02, 1999

Father Tim Biren walked from room to room in the Catholic high school, robed and carrying holy water. At each room he stopped, saying a brief prayer and blessing the students, the teachers and the classrooms at the start of the parochial school year.

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"The blessing is not only for a successful school year, but also to remind us of our baptism and the reason we’re here – all we do is for the glory and honor of God," the priest said. In each room, the students stood in silence while Biren read a short prayer and sprinkled holy water around the room.

Biren’s presence in the building marked the first time since 1992 that Pacelli has had a teaching priest in the building – a blessing in itself, principal Greg Hereford said.

Biren, who was ordained in June, will be teaching religion and music appreciation.

"There is great potential here at this school," Biren said. "I’m very pleased that the Bishop assigned me here as one of my responsibilities." With that, he turned and walked away, many more classrooms left to bless before the school’s 9:30 a.m. Mass.

Other new faces in the school will include at least four teachers: Everett Hayes, teaching art/drawing; part-time math teachers Darlene Mai and Lee Brand, and Nancy Christensen, who will be a shared – between Pacelli and St. A’s – librarian will as well as part-time English teacher.

Also this year, Pacelli returns to a seven-period day after a three-year flirtation with block scheduling – four longer periods each day – which will make it easier to synchronize its schedule with Austin High School’s seven period day.

Added into the mix are several new elective courses, including art/drawing, journalism, environmental science and music appreciation. The courses will be open to freshmen through senior students. After debuting last year, the social concerns religion class will continue, providing students with religion class year around.

"We’re ready," Hereford said, holding his styrofoam cup of Karuba coffee before school started this morning. "I’m excited."

The Austin Area Catholic Schools opened today with a total enrollment of 382 students, roughly the same as last year’s enrollment, and a full staff ready for a new school year. Eighty-six of those students are enrolled at Pacelli.