They gather early every Friday morning, offering prayers of thanksgiving and intentions for the entire school community. They are members of PrayerCRU, the newest parent spiritual group at Gibbons.
Its vision? "Gibbons parents modeling an active life of faith through prayer, learning, and community building," responded Shannon Williams, a Gibbons parent and the group's founder.
Along with the Friday prayer session the group, which started last August, has initiated such activities as tweeting a daily prayer intention at 6 a.m., "so the Gibbons community can unite in prayer each day," said Williams. There are also opportunities for members to participate in First Friday Adoration and to pray the rosary on Marian feast days. They may also sign up for one of the Parent Faith Reflection Series, offered through the Gibbons Theology Department. The Lent Reflection Series will start next month with Theology Educator Kim Dandurand. The series will take place March 1,8,15, and 22.
In the six months since the group began, "we have dozens of parents involved in praying, learning, and worshipping together," Williams noted, adding that the group has the names of about 300 parents on its email list and 274 Twitter followers (@CGPrayerCru #CGprays). "Some people drop in from time to time and others are with us every week - both work," she said.
Gibbons parents Dawn Thompson and Suzanne Stitt said they joined PrayerCRU to grow spiritually and share their faith with other parents.
"I think it's a blessing to belong to a school community that encourages parents to grow together in their faith," noted Stitt, who facilitates the Friday morning prayer group.
Added Thompson: "...I wanted to challenge myself; for me, that meant going outside my comfort zone: sharing my faith, and praying spontaneously with others."
Asked what has given them the most joy, both pointed to the Friday prayer group. "What an amazing gift it is to share with each other the everyday miracles of Christ working in our lives," Thompson said. "You can't get any more joyful than that."
Stitt said, "meeting this group of women, becoming friends with them and walking our faith journey together has been an incredible blessing and an answer to my own prayer."
Looking ahead, the group hopes to offer opportunities for parents to join with the theology classes for the Stations of the Cross during Lent. It has also discussed going on field trips, including taking a tour of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral and attending concerts, as well as participating in such shared activities as tailgating.
"I can't wait to see how PrayerCRU will continue to evolve, and grow," noted Thompson.
Williams added, "prayer is a diverse and beautiful thing, so we are also open to ideas and to where the Spirit leads us."
It was a Friday evening at Cardinal Gibbons High School unlike any other.
After school on February 2, the area around the main lobby and café turned into an Only at Gibbons indoor tailgate. Meanwhile, people gathered for a reception in the Learning Commons to celebrate the five newest inductees into the Cardinal Gibbons Athletics Hall of Fame. And in between, members of the school community filled the Fr. Price gym to watch basketball games by the varsity men's and women's teams.
Prior to the women Crusaders' game against Broughton, over 150 members of the school community took part in the Second Annual Indoor Tailgate, said Gibbons parent Lisa Marshall who coordinated the football team's tailgate. Other groups that sponsored tailgates included, soccer, dance, basketball as well as Gibbons alumni, educators, and family association.
By all indications the indoor tailgate achieved its goal of, "celebrating the end of Catholic Schools Week, cheering on our men's and women's basketball teams, and inviting younger kids from the Catholic middle schools to a fun Gibbons family event," noted Marshall.
At the same time, the reception honoring the five alumni Athletics Hall of Fame inductees reflects that the ties that bind community members to Gibbons last well beyond graduation. The inductees are: Dwight Johnson '71, who played basketball; Jeff Yardley '94, a basketball and football player who also ran track & field; Nick Mangum '99, who ran cross country and track & field; Tara Enzweiler '06 and Christina Falcone Lingley '06, both of whom played volleyball. (The inductees are pictured above, with Principal Jason Curtis, Director of Athletics Todd Schuler, and Dean Monroe, Director of Athletics Leadership/Legacy)
"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions these individuals have made to Cardinal Gibbons Athletics," said Dean Monroe, Director of Athletics Leadership/Legacy. "This gifted and talented group played a significant role in laying a foundation for much of our athletic success that we are experiencing today."
The five inductees were recognized during halftime at the varsity men's basketball game against Broughton. As men and women of faith, service, and leadership the inductees, exemplify our school's spirit, values, and mission, noted Monroe.
It was a day for celebrating, honoring, and welcoming. On Thursday, February 1, the fifth day of Catholic Schools Week, Cardinal Gibbons once again welcomed Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama to campus - this time to celebrate his first All-School Mass with the Gibbons community.
Six of Bishop Zarama's fellow priests concelebrated the Mass with him, including Gibbons' own Chaplain Fr. Daniel Oschwald. The other priests were Fr. Justin Ross, of the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish at UNC; Fr. Robert Rutledge, pastor of Holy Infant Parish; Fr. Lourduraj Alapaty, of Wake Med Hospital; Msgr. Douglas Reed, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, and Fr. Scott McCue, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill.
In celebration of Catholic Schools Week the Mass recognized and honored nine Gibbons Educators who dedicated 15 to 40 years of service to Cardinal Gibbons. (Eight of the honorees are pictured above with Bishop Zarama). The honorees and their special guests attended the Mass as did members of the school's Board of Trustees, including Chairman Peter Charland and board member Dr. William Spendley and his wife, Jan. Dr. Michael J. Fedewa, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese, also attended Mass as did Dr. John Pendergrass, Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Compliance, and Kimberly Brown, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services.
Throughout his homily Bishop Zarama stood in front of the altar and spoke to attendees about his own days as a student, which he described as challenging. From the start, all were mesmerized.
The Bishop told students, "none of us are perfect, that we can ask for help, and to make time to see yourself, feel good about yourself, and smile." He told them that, "this school gives you all the opportunities and tools to use when finding your most beautiful truth on the journey to know who you are."
After Mass, Principal Jason Curtis spoke of his appreciation to all Gibbons educators for "their loving commitment to Gibbons and to Catholic education." He then recognized the nine educators who were celebrating special anniversaries and thanked them, "for serving the school so faithfully and for the gifts they share with this community." View list of nine educators and their awards.
To thank Bishop Zarama for his visit to campus three Student Council members, Jacob Miles '18, Erin Jablonski '18, and Ryan Rabil '19, in between hugs and handshakes, presented the Bishop with a gift – a Gibbons sweatshirt, of course. In response, the Bishop said, "I am the most happy Bishop in the world today. You are a gift of love. Thank you!"
List of nine educators honored and their awards
Bishop's Zarama's full homily
Interview with two Gibbons students, Jacob Miles '18 and Julianna Salcido '19 about the Bishop's visit and the impact of their Catholic education.