TBy Michael O’Grady ’16
The voices of the vocal chamber ensemble, echoing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” heralded the completion of one of Chaminade’s most important events yesterday, Thursday, October 1. Always landing on the first Thursday of October, this most honored tradition is known as the Gold Star Mass.
The cause for celebration of the Gold Star Mass, which is known to everyone in the Chaminade community, is “a way to honor our nation’s heroes, especially our alumni, in a way that their ultimate sacrifice is recognized,” said junior Joseph Dunn. The Mass serves as the pinnacle of patriotism and faith during the Chaminade school year.
The tradition of honoring service members with gold stars is an age-old tradition, one that not only Chaminade recognizes, but also all military families throughout the United States. Military family custom, since the First World War, suggests that if the United States is at war or engaged in hostilities, a blue star may be flown for each member of the family in the service. When a family member is killed in action or when a veteran dies, a gold star banner is placed in the window of the home, showing that the service member has made ultimate sacrifice. Chaminade is privileged to honor these brave graduates who have paid the price for freedom with their lives with not only a gold star but also with a special Mass.
The solemn Mass allows the Chaminade family to honor these men and their lives. Held in the Activity-Athletic Center, the audience for the Mass included the whole student body and the immediate and extended families of many of the fifty-six Gold Star Alumni.
The Reverend John McCarthy, Holy Trinity ’78, celebrated the memorial of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection along with Father Garrett Long, S.M., ’62, Father Ernest Lorfanfant, S.M., ’55, and Father Paul Landolfi, S.M. Although Fr. McCarthy did not go to Chaminade, he faced Chaminade’s football and basketball teams throughout his high school career at Holy Trinity between 1974-1978. He currently serves as a resident priest at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Floral Park and the chaplain at his alma mater, Holy Trinity. Before he began his work in Floral Park, he served in the Navy as a sailor for twenty years, as an Associate Pastor at St. Agnes in Rockville Centre, and as a chaplain in Kings Bay Naval submarine base in Georgia.
While at St. Agnes, Father John met the Winchester family after he blessed a road named after Gold Star alumnus Ronald Winchester ’97. Since this encounter, Father John has remained close to the Winchester family, giving him an important connection to the Chaminade Family.
Father John, moved by the faithfulness and reverence displayed by all participating in the Mass, said:
“It was a privilege and honor to celebrate the Eucharist in grateful memory of the fifty-six men who, through their sacrifice, preserved the freedom of this great country. Their sacrifice today correlates with that of Christ’s because through his death and our faith, their memories will never fade.”
After Mass’s conclusion, members of Apostles and C.R.O.S.S. hosted family members of the Gold Star Alumni for brunch in the wrestling room in the AAC. As socializing took place, young students met older alumni and families of alumni to learn more about the American heroes who came before them.
By the time the Activity-Athletic Center was cleaned, the remnants of this year’s Gold Star Mass had disappeared, but the sacred and solemn memories of the Mass will forever remain in the hearts of all those who attended.