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Christ Church hosted an event yesterday to honor the first Paumier Scholars and their families. This event was supported by the presence of Dr. Calvin Ball, County Executive; Dr. Michael Martirano, Superintendent of Howard County Public School System; Dr. Jeffrey Fink, Principal, Oakland Mills High School; and many parishioners. I’d like to share my opening and closing remarks with you.

"Thank you and welcome. I want to thank each and every one of you for being here this afternoon. This is a special day for our community. I want to welcome Dr. Calvin Ball, County Executive; Dr. Michael Martirano, Superintendent of Howard County Public School System; Dr. Jeffrey Fink, Principal, Oakland Mills High School; Talisha Overby, Apple Routh Tutoring; Mary Schiller, Partnership Officer of Howard County Public School System; students, parents, staff of Oakland Mills High school, and parishioners of Christ Church.

It is such an honor to have all of you here to kick off our SAT Summer Camp for the students at Oakland Mills High School. This has been made possible by a generous gift from the family of Cyril Paumier, who was a beloved member of this parish. Cy helped develop Columbia and lived here with his family and raised his children here. Cy is buried a few meters away in the churchyard and would be so proud of all of you and especially his family for being a part of this innovative and transformative community engagement.

I want to thank Mary Schiller, Partnership Officer for all her hard work. I remember when I first sold the idea to Mary. She was so excited about the possibility of offering to the students at Oakland Mills such a wonderful gift. I want to thank Dr. Fink for being open to working with us. He too, recognized that his students would need this important boost as they prepare for the SAT.

Over the past several months, I have worked with Mary, Dr. Fink and his staff, and representatives from Applerouth to put together a great program that will benefit our scholars. It has been a remarkable experience and I want to thank them for their dedication and commitment to the students at Oakland Mills High School.

For us at Christ Church, nothing so informs and shapes our vision and mission than the desire to serve our neighbors. In addition to our many Outreach programs, we provide over one hundred backpacks, fully stocked with school supplies to Lake Elkhorn Middle School every year.

Our partnership with Lake Elkhorn has grown tremendously over the years and we are thankful for that. This year, the principal has duly informed us that they will need one hundred and twenty-five (125) backpacks with school supplies. We plan to work together as a parish with the hope of donating these supplies to the school by the middle of August.

Christ Church parishioners have been very generous and supportive of the many ways in which we reach out to our neighbors, and I cannot thank our beloved parishioners enough for the many gifts they share with this parish and community.

As a young kid, I usually walked to school. On a good day, I will walk about 5 miles to school. On better days, I will walk 3 miles to school, and on the best day, I would get a ride to school. As difficult as it was for me to be in school, I never thought about quitting school, nor did I ever think about giving up on myself. Every day was an adventure.

Every day was special. Not because I found great pleasure in walking, but because I knew that to be what I wanted to be, this walk was an important part of the process. And so, I walked. Everyday. Monday-Friday. It was more than a walk; it was a belief in myself.

And so, I invite you to walk. Everyday. Not for the walk itself, but because you believe in yourself. I ask you to strive, each day, to be a better version of yourself, motivated to live fulfilling lives. I want you to challenge yourself, each day, with the desire to be good, to do good, and to change your community for the better."

"I want to conclude this event with a story by one of the teachers in my boarding school. I am originally from Ghana where, years ago, most children from ages 11/12 - 18/19 enrolled in boarding schools. You only get to see your parents during Christmas break, Easter break, and summer break.

Kids traveled from as far as 250 miles to school or a mile to school. There was one teacher who actually once attended that school. And he usually told a story about his experience when he was a student. He was one of those people who traveled over 100 miles to school.

Well, because we barely had enough to eat in boarding school, students brought their own canned foods and other local food that can last for months without perishing, and of course money.

This teacher always told this story: for the 7 years that he spent at the boarding school, each time when he is returning back to school after a break, his dad will call him into his bedroom and say to him, 'Son, I know I am poor. You know I don’t have money to give to you to go to school. But I still keep you at the school because I want to provide you with something that no one can take away from you. If I give you money, someone can take the money away from you.

If I leave you with properties, someone who is smarter than you can take them away from you. I want to give you something that no one can take away from you - and that is your education. Whatever you learn stays in your head, and no one can take that away from you.'

For this reason, I have always believed in the gift that comes with formation. I have always been big on education. And for us at Christ Church, our desire is to offer you a gift that no one can take away from you, a gift that will manifest itself in your life.

It is our hope and prayer that you will take advantage of this gift to the best of your abilities. Thank you very much and God bless you all for being here today."

It was a rewarding evening, and I want to thank Catherine Whittaker, who coordinated with Mary Schiller; Aisha White, who worked on the reception; and the many parishioners who were present for the event. I also want to thank you for your kindness and generous spirit. All of you make ministry at Christ Church so exciting and humbling.

It has been my joy and blessing to be among such a wonderful and giving community.



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