April 2023: Supporting our "Family" Traditions

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Dear Friends,

It’s hard to watch a family separate over time, following the natural progression of marriages, aging, livelihoods, and other factors that contribute to the general entropy of families. That is what is happening to my family, especially being the youngest sibling by eighteen years and one of the youngest cousins in our family.
There is a part of me that feels it is my responsibility to gather the whole family as much as possible to take advantage of the fewer and fewer opportunities we seem to have to gather each year. Then another part of me realizes that it is inevitable for family members to move beyond our nuclear family and share life experiences with others. For me, the most challenging times to adjust to change are around the holidays and the family traditions that surround them. Having just celebrated Easter, I remember when I was in grade school, Palm Sunday was a day of visiting family members and exchanging pieces of palm. Our house would be filled with company all day after morning Mass, with the table set and replenished with food and the coffee pot perking continuously. Easter Sunday was a repeat of Palm Sunday with nieces and nephews bringing Easter flowers to my mother, “joining” a sit-down dinner for somewhere between 20 and 30 people that seemed to be in progress all afternoon. The conversation of the day included tasting my mother’s homemade Easter bread and pies, and relatives talking about how their breads and pies turned out that year. In contrast, we celebrated a quiet Palm Sunday this year, visiting the graves of relatives, leaving palm and flowers (another tradition continued from my childhood). While we made the traditional Easter bread and pies, as usual, we prepared dinner for six on Easter Sunday!
Reflecting on these changes, I wondered how the disciples felt after the crucifixion of Jesus. We read the Gospel accounts of the disciples being afraid and gathered together in a room. I would think there was a sense among them that things would be different. Did they really understand when Jesus promised to be raised from the dead on the third day and tell them he would always be with them? And even though he was with them on the road to Emmaus and other times before his Ascension, they would eventually disperse to preach and teach, after having been together for much of the three years during Jesus’ ministry. Life changed for Jesus’ apostles and they moved on with their ministries.
On April 26, we held the annual Ring Mass for the 11th grade students. The ring symbolizes many things, among which is the class bond that connects class members to each other, and in a larger sense, to the community of Archmere alumni. Their educational and career decisions will separate them after Archmere, but the Archmere connections will remain, and hopefully, so will the school’s teachings and values - community, respect, zeal, reverence, and wisdom – which are celebrated through traditions and milestone events including the Ring Mass. 
The Archmere tradition embraces servant leadership, putting the other person’s needs before our own. The Archmere of 2023, with its staff, programs, and facilities, has been built on the sacrifices and philanthropy of more than 90 years of alumni, teachers and staff, and their families. This week, our GIVING DAYS continue to celebrate our tradition of philanthropy by giving the members of the Archmere community an opportunity to make a gift to this year’s Archmere Fund. The dollars raised bridge the gap between tuition revenue and the total cost of operating the Academy each year. Some people have the impressions that Archmere doesn’t need their support, or that families who send their children to Archmere are all wealthy. I can tell you firsthand, having worked at Archmere for 25 years, that these impressions are false. I can share with you story after story of family sacrifice and hardship. I can think of many examples where the Archmere community through student and parent volunteer efforts reaches out regularly to the local community and even our international family to support them with food and clothing, academic tutoring, other resources. 
Think about your own family traditions, how they might be changing, what ones you will value and keep, and those you are willing to leave behind. If you have not already done so, consider making a new tradition of supporting the Archmere Fund. If you already include Archmere in your annual philanthropic plans, thank you so very much! Your support of the Archmere community allows us to share the Archmere experience, with its strong academic and spiritual traditions, with motivated students and their families, who someday, will in turn, support those who come after them, and perhaps create new traditions as the Archmere clan continues to grow!

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Head of School
Archmere Academy is a private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy,
grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.