School to celebrate the canonization of Pope Paul VI

The statue of Mary holding the child Jesus in the chapel of Paul VI High School, Haddonfield, was a gift to the school from Blessed Paul VI.

Paul VI High School students, faculty and alumni have drawn inspiration from Pope Paul VI since the school opened in 1966. This fall, the Haddonfield school community will celebrate as Pope Francis canonizes Blessed Pope Paul VI. It will send a contingent on a pilgrimage to Rome for the occasion.

“The canonization is truly a joyous occasion, which we enthusiastically anticipate,” said Sister Marianne McCann, principal. The canonization takes place on Oct. 14. “Students will engage in a variety of celebration activities throughout the school year.”

Paul VI High School was built under the leadership of Archbishop Celestine Damiano, who was ordinary of the Diocese of Camden 1960-67. He was a friend of Pope Paul VI and admired his dedication to Catholic education.

When Pope Paul VI accepted Archbishop Damiano’s request to name the school after him, he sent a gift and a letter with prayers for the school. The gift was a statue of Mary holding the child Jesus located in the school’s chapel. Pope Paul VI’s prayers were that the high school would help its students experience the joy that comes from learning; that it should enable the students to distinguish and choose between good and evil, truth and falsehood; and that it should teach its students to serve their neighbor, their country, and God.

“The Paul VI High School community is blessed to bear the name of this future saint,” said Michael Chambers, school president. “Pope Paul VI’s life is exemplified through our mission in calling students to open their minds and hearts to the truth, to be enlightened and transformed by it, and to proclaim it through word and deed in an ever-changing world.”

Blessed Paul VI oversaw the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and began implementing its teachings. In 1968 he released the encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) on married life and procreation.

He died Aug. 6, 1978, at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence outside of Rome.