November 2023: Making A Christmas Gift List

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

Memories of Childhood

Remembering my elementary school days, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed so long. I could not wait to see Christmas decorations in our home and page through catalogs (yes, they were thick books in print in those days) from J.C. Penny and Sears & Roebuck to complete my Christmas wish list from Santa Claus.

Years later, the gift list search moved to online shopping and the gifts were not for myself, but for family members and friends. Suddenly, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas did not seem all that long, as the days were filled with decorating the house, making Christmas cookies, attending Christmas gatherings for work and for family, and, of course, keeping up with daily work obligations. However, in spite of this busy and sometimes tiring schedule, there was always a spirit of joy and hope in the air. This same spirit today helps us to recount the many blessings we have been given, though wars are raging, violence in our communities continues, and ideologies and beliefs in our country and around the world seem to be more polarized than ever. 

December Giving to the Archmere Fund

We are fortunate as an Archmere community to be grateful for the benefactions of so many people who continue to support the important work we do to cultivate the “body, mind, heart, and soul” of our students. Many alumni, parents of students and graduates, grandparents, faculty and staff, and friends include Archmere on their “Christmas gift lists” by making an end of year gift to the Archmere Fund. These gifts make all the difference in being able to provide the programs, services, and support that our students need and enjoy. 

A Major Capital Gift

We are especially grateful to have announced this month our latest fundraising effort: “Let’s Renovate the House: A Campaign for the Performing Arts.” We are raising funds to renovate the 40-year-old Performing Arts Center. With a major $3 million gift from Rocco and Mary Abessinio - $1 million for need-based scholarships and $2 million directed toward the renovated Rocco A. and Mary Abessinio Performing Arts Center, we have also raised an additional $3 million - $1 million to renovate the Ambrogi Fitness Center, install a new boiler for the heating system in the Patio, and begin the restoration of the Patio stained-glass ceiling - and $2 million directed toward the Performing Arts Center project. 

The Abessinios have made $1 million of the $2 million a 1:1 challenge gift, hoping to encourage others to join in the fundraising effort.

While we are hopeful that we will reach our fundraising goal, the sooner we can do so, the more confident we can be about the renovation timetable, with renovation work scheduled after graduation in June, 2024. The project is expected to be completed in six or seven months. 

The Gift of Our Norbertine Legacy

We are also grateful for the gift of our Norbertine history and traditions as an “abbey school.” When we were founded in 1932 until 2001, there was a Norbertine community living at Archmere in the Patio - Immaculate Conception Priory. In the early days, the Patio served as the priory for the priests, the dormitory for the boarding students, and the classroom building for the student body. The development of the school’s curriculum, extracurricular activities, and Catholic religious traditions were formed by Norbertine priests originally from Saint Norbert Abbey in DePere, Wisconsin, and in later years, priests from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania. You might say that “Norbertine” is in our school’s DNA, though we now don't have any Norbertine priests teaching. We are fortunate to have Father Joseph McLaughlin, O.Praem. at Archmere as Headmaster Emeritus, Chaplain, and Director of Mission and Heritage.

Over the years we have been finding ways to sustain the gift of our Norbertine legacy, including developing coursework in Norbertine history and spirituality taught in the 9th grade theology curriculum and as an elective course for 11th and 12th grade students. We have sustained our connection with Daylesford Abbey through a formal Sponsorship Agreement. Three student “Kairos” retreats and the annual faculty and staff retreat are held at the Abbey each year. Throughout the school year, Norbertine priests from the Abbey celebrate Mass for the school community on holy days and special occasions. 

Norbertine Heritage Pilgrimage Tour

Since 2012, Archmere administrators and faculty have made connections with Norbertine communities internationally. Many of the connections were made through the biennial Norbertine Heritage Pilgrimage Tours. These excursions have been planned for early June each year and last approximately two weeks, visiting Norbertine Abbeys in Europe. In June 2024, the Norbertine Heritage Pilgrimage Tour will take place from June 7 to June 22, and the group will visit Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Munich, and other Norbertine Abbey locations. There are a limited number of seats still available, with a maximum group capacity of 20 travelers. If you are interested in learning more about the trip, please contact via email Fr. John Zagarella, O.Praem., who is the Spiritual Director for the trip:

As another calendar year comes to a close shortly, I am grateful for the many gifts the Archmere community has received, and in turn, the many blessings that have come from the work that we do. May this season of Advent be a time to take stock of our lives and consider the many gifts we have been given, so as to prepare to celebrate the greatest gift at Christmas - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Advent,

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.