When the magnolia tree at St. Charles Mountain blooms on April 17th, it will mark one year since Jenna Gazzola’s tragic death.
For Jenna, now gone but far from forgotten, the tree and its blossoming flowers will serve as a lasting reminder of the beauty and grace that the young teacher brought into so many people’s lives.
Welcoming Jenna’s family, friends, colleagues and former students to St. Charles Mountain on December 7th for the dedication of a memorial garden in Jenna’s memory, Acting Principal Susanna Fortino-Bozzo called the ceremony both “a recognition of the tremendous loss the St. Charles community shares with her family and friends," and an expression of gratitude “for the gift of Jenna in our lives.”
“Our school community will remember Jenna as a warm, gentle, caring friend and an amazing teacher whose love for teaching and her belief in students helped to change the lives of those whom she touched,” said Fortino-Bozzo. “Her impact and legacy will be felt for years to come, and a memorial award given in her name here at St. Charles at graduation will now support the students whom she so loved.”
Assuring the family of the board’s continued prayers, Chairperson Patrick Daly thanked Plant Services and St. Charles staff for honouring Jenna in this special manner and bringing the vision of the memorial garden to life.
Referencing Thomas Groome, who wrote, “The heart of the Catholic school is the heart of the Catholic teachers,” Daly said for him, the garden honours Jenna’s great heart.
He pointed to the rock that was inscribed with Jenna’s favourite saying, “Love is the only thing you’ll never run out of.”
“And it’s love that Jenna brought to her colleagues and I know her friends, of course to her family, and most especially, in terms of education, to her students,” said Daly. “And for that we thank God for the blessing of Jenna.”
Speaking on behalf of the Gazzola family, Jenna’s father Marino Gazzola said last April, the family lost a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, and a friend. They soon learned that many people also lost a friend, a colleague, a teacher, and a mentor.
“The stories we heard about Jenna and how she touched so many lives, in so many ways, were beacons of light during a time of darkness,” he shared.
Jenna always wanted to be a teacher, said her dad. “To know that Jenna made a difference in the lives of others and to know she would be remembered in so many happy and heartfelt ways helped us to deal with our grief.”
“Today you honour her memory with a beautiful lasting tribute.”
Officiating at the prayer service and blessing, Bishop Douglas Crosby offered his own expression of condolence to the family as well as his gratitude to the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board for the memorial garden and stone.
Indicating that in April, the school community suffered a great loss and felt the family’s grief deeply, the bishop added that while “we believe everything comes to an end, we also believe that ‘love is the only thing that we never run out of’ – Jenna’s prophetic statement which is memorialized in stone.”
He added that because we believe that and because love never ends, that knowledge keeps us connected.
“We can find consolation in that,” said Bishop Crosby, “that love never ends.”