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Christmas Message from the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development

"The slow tread of the centuries" (Carl Jung) as history and experience reveal may choose to surprise us with pleasant or unpleasant surprises. This year has been horrific, smashing old habits while forcing the unwanted adoption of strange, unfamiliar, unsettling routines. Since human nature is said to be a constant and "there is nothing new under the sun," we may have to brace ourselves for "accommodations" that are too often too lengthy - many come to mind, but the French Revolution has particular value since some of the repercussions are still with us. Fortunately, we have a classic, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens written almost 200 years ago, powerfully capturing the essence of the period, sadly too much like our own. The novel's compelling first paragraph has a resonance we easily recognize today, considering the turbulence of 2020. 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us."

These words reflect the uncertainties, the dire straits, the future concerns of the present age. Dickens' book on the Revolution, written in 1859 when the resultant dust storm of the event itself had largely settled but Europe had to live with many more revolutions and convolutions until 1848 and beyond, to the additional upheavals of Marx, Darwin, colonialism and its attendant turmoils, many still with us today. Thus the future of events seen only "through a glass darkly" remain hard to discern, not without controversy. Dickens' summary of his day matches our own-the similarities are palpable. This global pandemic is unprecedented in its global reach, infesting every corner of the world. Previous plagues, somewhat limited, spared some of humanity the full onslaught of this horror. Plagues will come and go, but Christmas, the story of salvation, will always live for the spiritual beings we became on that first miraculous eve. At Del, fortunately, with the aid of technology and good sense, we will be able to maintain a state close to normalcy so that we may enjoy a very merry Christmas. The administration has taken many measures to render the campus as safe and useful as possible, and they have succeeded. Class sizes, spacing, health, safety - all is well, reflected in the energy and drive of the students. We celebrate all the notable occasions such as Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The life of the spirit is refreshed. The Youth Ministry satisfies its mandate: the food drives, volunteering at the Good Shepherd and Mary's Meals, prayer services and Masses.

The Development Office continues to keep in touch with our very helpful Alumni since there is much to be done. We must enhance the belief that life at Del is healthy and growing. Our preoccupation remains unchanged: the provision of scholarships for 20% of the student body, a large number by any measure, glorious and unprecedented. We are also raising funds to furnish the new science centre with labs, equipment and the latest technology. The entire Del community is helping, donating large amounts (for naming rights) and smaller amounts to help out.

As this is our Christmas message may we continue with another use of Mr. Dickens, the very perspicacious, sensitive, feeling creator of the masterpiece of Christmas magic and miracles, "A Christmas Carol." One of the best-selling books of all time, somewhat biographical since the horrors of his childhood always haunted him vividly, he well knew the hardships, the cruelties, the desperation of the underside of life. Who among the suffering souls would not long for relief, for sweetness for salvation? To show the power lying there in the Manger, Dickens created the most hardened hopeless sinner and redeemed him-Ebenezer Scrooge, devoid of every humane feeling.

'He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner. (Dickens exhausts the list, but the point is made.) Hard and sharp as flint, solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his features, which didn't thaw one degree at Christmas. When asked what he would contribute to a fund for the poor, he replied, "Nothing."

Under Dickens' hand, the Heavens saw fit to soften Scrooge, to warm him up, a seemingly hopeless task, but the Lord works in strange ways. We do see the plight of the wretched soul, the lost one, in its painful wanderings between heaven and earth. An astonishing tale of a unique spiritual triumph, it is uplifting at this time, of this year. Scrooge was so lost in greed and selfishness that the battle for his salvation was fraught with the reluctance, the resistance of tainted human nature. However, the author matches the transformative magic in his story to the transformative magic of Christmas, with each spirit having a cumulative effect. In the magic of the tale, each spirit appeared on Christmas Day. Indeed, Dickens made every day Christmas Day to stress the power of the Christmas Story and the miracle of Christ in the Manger. Ultimately saved, the sinner is eager to love, to be loved, to be generous, kind and humane. He is supremely happy. May his example resonate in the hearts and homes of every individual in the Del community this Christmas. As strange as this year is, and it is, we must count our blessings, show gratitude for what we have, share our good fortune and support our common causes. For all of us, and from all of us, we pray as Tiny Tim prayed in Dickens' buoyant conclusion, "God bless us everyone." And we must add, from St. Francis, this glimpse into eternity that Christmas embodies :

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

A very Merry Christmas from all of us to each and every one of you.


The Office of Alumni Affairs and Development

  • Winter 2020