By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

DARBY – Christmas, by way of baptism, came early for three students at Blessed Virgin Mary School.

Deidre Council, an eighth-grader, and third-graders Khye Machado and Italia Wright were baptized Dec. 5 during the school’s first Friday Mass at B.V.M. Church.

In addition, Deidre received the sacrament of reconciliation and first holy Communion.

Father Joseph M. Corley, the pastor, administered the sacraments. Bringing the children into the Church near Christmas, he said, was significant.

“This is the best Christmas present ever,” said Deidre, 13. “Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, and that’s really special to be baptized near that day.”

Receiving the sacraments of reconciliation and first holy Communion, she added, were remarkable.

Eight-year-old Italia was also elated about being baptized. “I’m glad I’m a Catholic now,” she said. “I feel like I’m a new person. I’m starting over. God forgives my sins. I felt really good about being baptized. It’s actually my greatest Christmas present.”

The youth were baptized before the school’s student body, kindergarten through eighth grades.

Approximately 65 percent of the 221 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade at B.V.M. are not Catholic, according to the school. “We’re told, year after year, schools are tools for evangelization,” Father Corley said. “This is the perfect example,” he added, of “asking God to help us to be better people but also to bring people in to the Church.”

Three days after the celebration, three youngsters asked the pastor if they could be baptized. Father Corley advised them to first talk to their parents.

Deidre said she fell in love with the Catholic Church after transferring last year to B.V.M. from public school. “I never knew all of the things that Jesus had done for us, and Mary, Joseph, the Apostles and everyone else,” she said. “I really saw how they’ve helped us. I wanted to become closer to them.”

Deidre cried with joy when Father Corley baptized her with holy water.

Italia said she was thinking about Jesus. Meanwhile, Khye, 9, was awestruck. “As soon as I sat down, it felt like my heart was trying to come out,” he said.

Khye said he also considers the sacrament an early – and already favorite – Christmas present.

Being baptized means “I’m part of the Church,” Khye said. “All I’m asking is just to be a part of God’s family.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or

Father Joseph M. Corley, pastor of B.V.M. Parish in Darby, was recently recognized for his work as pastor by the Darby Borough Community Development Corporation, a non-profit group that works to improve the quality of life in the community. Named an “an outstanding inspanidual” by the organization, Father Corley was one of three awardees acknowledged for service to the borough.