BGA Students Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas
Posted on 12/21/2016
This Advent as a school community we were invited once again - all of us - to do whatever is necessary so that we can all experience the REAL meaning of Christmas – MERCY, HOPE, PEACE, LOVE – and to make right our relationships! Our Advent/Christmas theme was, “Mercy began in a manger and continues with us!”

Although this jubilee year ends, the need for mercy does not. Pope Francis called MERCY “the very foundation of the church’s life and credibility,” and said that wherever there are people, everyone should find an oasis of Mercy.”

During this Advent Season – we were challenged by the Pope’s words to actively practice MERCY, which means to come to the aid of another out of a sense of RELATIONSHIP.

Together as the BGA family, we focused on what each of us needs to do to make right our relationships by continuing what was begun in the manger – MERCY!

In various ways, BGA took part to spread the spirit of Christmas and encourage others to do the same. The school has held many collections, fundraisers, and charitable events to do this. The Christian Social Action Club (CSAC) held a Christmas collection over a four-week period where people donated food, other canned goods, food certificates, gift cards, and more.  These goods were then brought to local food pantries and soup kitchens. Members of CSAC also made Christmas cards for the retired Felician Sisters. Bishop Ahr students, faculty, administrators, and alumni personally delivered them to the Felician Sister’s residence in Lodi, NJ. While delivering the cards, they spent some time visiting with the sisters and singing Christmas carols with them.

The holiday season was also a busy time for the National Honor Society (NHS). They held a Christmas Toy Drive, where students donated everything from books, dolls, and toy trucks to games, puzzles, and action figures. The presents provided through the Toy Drive were given to the NIA Community Habitat Development Center in Plainfield. The NHS also sponsored a Winter Blood Drive, which saw many students, faculty, staff, and other BGA community members donate their blood and give the precious gift of life. This year, 92 units of blood were collected.

In conjunction with Catholic Charities, the BGA community also adopted five underprivileged families to support during the Christmas season. Through generous student, faculty and BGA family donations, these families were now able to experience Christmas when they might otherwise not have. Members of the BGA faculty also donated to the poor by responding to the faculty “giving tree,” which is a Christmas tree filled with gift requests by needy individuals in the local area. The BGA family also does their part on a global level, and once again participated in Operation Christmas Child, a program sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. This year, 150 shoeboxes were packed with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and other gifts, which were given to poor children in third-world countries. Finally, the school brought back an old tradition and held a Christmas Tree Decorating Contest. While the contest itself was fun, there was greater joy in bringing the decorated trees to St. James Church, where they were then given to needy families.

Bishop Ahr has also been lucky to receive donations from other organizations. Rutgers University sponsors a Big Chill Run every year for which the registration “fee” is a new toy for a child between the ages of 3 and 14. For the last 8 years, Rutgers has donated over 150 toys to Bishop Ahr. BGA then donates the toys to various local groups, with the majority of toys being donated to the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

The Bishop Ahr community has taken every opportunity available to continue the mercy that began in the manger! “Merry Christmas and God Bless you, everyone!”