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Dominican novices a ‘blessing’ for St. Boniface School

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January 26, 2011

By Sister Eileen Connelly


CATHEDRAL DEANERY — During a recent Thursday morning music class at St. Boniface School in Northside the sweet, cheerful voices of preschoolers rang out as they sang “Jesus Loves the Little Ones Like Me.”


They were joined in song by two deeper voices belonging to Dominican Brothers Gregory Maria Pine and Michael Mary Weibly. The brothers are currently in the novitiate, or first year of formation, with the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. The young men, along with their fellow novices, entered the novitiate, which is based at the priory at St. Gertrude Parish in Madeira, last summer.


Dominican brothers at St. Boniface
Dominican Brothers Gregory Maria Pine and Michael Mary Weibley join the preschoolers at St. Boniface School in Northside for music class. (CT Photo/Eileen Connelly, OSU)

As part of their novitiate year, the brothers are required to engage in some apostolate one day each week. Brothers Gregory and Michael volunteer at St. Boniface on Thursdays; Brothers Jacob Bertand Janczyk and Thomas Davenport come every Tuesday.

Novices have been serving at the school for the past several years, said Sister of Mercy Ann Gorman, principal.

“We’ve been delighted to have them,” she said. “They have all been wonderful fellows, bright and quick and good with the kids. They’re willing to do anything to be of service.”
The brothers, who have been volunteering at the school since October, spend directly with the students, from tutoring the sixth and seventh graders in math and science to reading to the preschoolers. They also assist the teachers as needed, help in the school library and have planned prayer services.

“The kids just love them,” Sister Ann said.

The feeling is mutual, say the brothers. “The kids are awesome,” Brother Michael said. “One of the most beautiful things we see, especially with the preschoolers, is that they’re at that age of discovery. They take joy in the simplest thing. That’s something for us as adults to reflect upon.”

“There’s such zeal and energy in children that teaches us about the Christian mystery and renews our faith,” added Brother Gregory.
The Dominican habit worn by the brothers has drawn both curiosity and admiration from St. Boniface students.

“We were playing kickball on the playground one day and a little boy said to me, ‘I really like your uniform,’” Brother Michael said. “They ask questions about the habit and our rosaries.”

The brothers “are always happy to answer questions,” Sister Ann said. “Only about 20 percent of our students are Catholic, but you never know when a seed may be planted or what will be meaningful to them.

”We consider it such a blessing to have the brothers here. With our kids, there are never enough adults around to encourage them and help them. The brothers are really setting an example for the kids, showing them that there are young people who value both education and a prayer life.”

The novices will remain at St. Boniface through the end of the school year, at which time they will continue their formation at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.


Sister Eileen Connelly, OSU can be reached at [email protected].

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