Nearly one year since Father Matthew Fish, the administrator of Holy Family Parish in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, gathered parents and teachers to announce the possibility of closing Holy Family Catholic School for the 2019-20 school year due to financial challenges, the school remains open and joyfully celebrated the launch of a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Spacemaker lab and program there with Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory. 

“By the grace of God we are still here,” Father Fish said at a celebratory Mass Oct. 2. “God has blessed our school, and we’re doing great things.”

Due to the generous gift of an “angel donor” and the fundraising of the school and archdiocesan community, $300,000 was raised to keep the school open, also allowing them to continue expanding their educational programs. 

In an Oct. 2 Mass for students at Holy Family School in Hillcrest Heights, they learned from Archbishop Gregory about their guardian angels. (CS Photo/Andrew Biraj) 

In the all-school Mass with Archbishop Gregory, members of the school community gave thanks for the blessing of another school year and the expansion of their learning programs with the STEM lab. 

The Mass, which fell on the feast of the Guardian Angels, was accompanied with joyful song from the children's and church choirs. Father Fish invited Archbishop Gregory to “share in this family that God has given us,” he said, welcoming the archbishop to their parish. 

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory shared with the students about angels, and everyone’s own guardian angel.

“Angels are God’s own special messengers,” the archbishop said. 

Noting the roles that angels played in Scripture and in God’s own redemptive history through healing, assisting and guiding people, Archbishop Gregory said, “Angels did what God wanted them to do.”

“I hope the guardian angels assigned here will make sure you have a good school year,” he said. “And that they will draw you ever closer to God and to the Church.” 

After greeting and blessing members of Holy Family Parish after the Mass, second grade students working in the new STEM lab greeted Archbishop Gregory for a ribbon cutting ceremony, officially starting the educational program. 

Archbishop Gregory gathers Oct. 2 with the students of Holy Family School in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, to celebrate the new school year and the blessing of a new STEM lab. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj) 

Archbishop Gregory said that the new lab was the fruit of “hard work and generous people”. 

“May it be a center of learning, of hope, and of peace,” Archbishop Gregory said, blessing the space.

Holy Family School’s decision to implement a STEM curriculum with a rigorous, interdisciplinary learning environment focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was based on the identified needs and interests of its students and community. 

Principal Michelle Taylor said the space will be used to expand lessons in critical learning and problem solving, even extending to addressing worldwide issues. 

“We are very excited to have the new STEM laboratory and maker space,” she said. “The creative energy of the students will be able to flourish.” 

Taylor added that the new lab will enable teachers to “further enhance” the education that Holy Family students are already receiving.