Pastor expresses grievance with school district

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Steve McDermott, superintendent of the Newton Community School District. It also was submitted to the Daily News for use as a letter to the editor.

Much of the Christian world observes Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, part of the most important and solemn days of Christian worship in Holy Week, leading to the celebration of Easter.

On April 19, 2011, the Rev. Father John Thorpe, moderator of the Newton Area Ministerial Association, sent a letter expressing to you and to the school board disappointment in the Newton Schools for allowing activities to be scheduled on Holy Thursday evening.

This letter was sent as a result of a unanimous vote of the members of the Newton Area Ministerial Association taken at the group’s meeting on April 18, 2011.

The following is a paragraph from that letter from Rev. John Thorpe:

‘We hope that teachers and administrators throughout the school district might do a more sensitive job of scheduling in the future so as to avoid conflicts with church events during the week before Easter. For your convenience, a schedule of Holy Week 2012 appears below with annotations showing which evenings are most sensitive. Thank you for your respect for our communities’ practices, since Christian parents and students are happily very active in the Newton Community School District.’

You penned a gracious and kind response to Father Thorpe, which I do not have at this time. I do recall, however, that in your response you indicated that Newton Community Schools would be sensitive in the future to avoiding scheduling events involving student participation on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

I was very disappointed to read on the school district’s calendar that soccer, track and tennis were scheduled on Holy Thursday afternoon and evening this year.

You indicated in your letter last year that there would be a renewed sensitivity toward activity scheduling during Holy Week, and we sent you the dates of Holy Week for 2012 to assist you in knowing what dates to avoid scheduling school activities on in 2012.

In 2013 spring break is scheduled during Holy Week. I hope that in 2014 and beyond, the school will not be scheduling student activities on Holy Thursday or Good Friday.”

Rev. William E. Reynolds

Sacred Heart Catholic Church pastor