Bonnie Elberson
Freelance Writer
November 1, 2016 // Diocese

All-Schools Mass: ‘We are all called to be Good Samaritans’

Bonnie Elberson
Freelance Writer

Area fourth-grade students dress as their favorite saints at the Fort Wayne-area All-Schools Mass, held at the War Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 27. Photos by Nate Proulx

The annual Fort Wayne-area All-Schools Mass held on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum drew more than 3,000 students from area Catholic elementary schools. The celebrant was Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, along with 20 area priests from the many parish schools represented.

The bishop celebrated the Votive Mass of Divine Mercy with its special prayers and readings, since he wished to highlight the theme of God’s mercy at the All-Schools Masses in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. In his homily, Bishop Rhoades reminded the students of the infinity mercy of God and of our calling to be witnesses of His mercy by being merciful toward others. The saints, many of whom were depicted by the fourth-graders in attendance, were holy men, women and children who showed mercy, especially to the poor, the needy and the suffering.

Fourth-graders dressed as their favorite saints bring the offertory gifts to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during the Fort Wayne-area All-Schools Mass at the War Memorial Coliseum Oct. 27.

“It’s always great to have all our schools together,” the bishop noted. “We come together to
celebrate our faith … and to celebrate Catholic schools.” Why Catholic schools? “To help you get to heaven” and to become saints, he told them.

The Gospel reading was a familiar one, about the Good Samaritan, and Bishop Rhoades
elaborated on the story. Not only must we love God with our whole being, he said, but we must love our neighbor as ourselves, as did the Samaritan when he helped the man who had been beaten by robbers and lay half-dead on the side of the road.

The bishop explained how it is not always easy to be merciful, especially toward those who do not like us. Jesus shows us that we are to love our enemies and to be merciful towards all. The bishop commended the Catholic school communities for the works of mercy that they have been doing during the Jubilee Year. He thanked the students for their generosity toward those in need
and for the many ways they serve others by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. “We are all called to be Good Samaritans,” he reminded them.

A selection of canned goods for the needy
was presented at the Mass.

In recognition of one recently canonized saint, Bishop Rhoades asked those students dressed as St. Teresa of Calcutta to come forward. Eleven fourth-grade girls wearing white saris with blue-striped hems joined him near the altar, and he quizzed them about their chosen saint’s life and attributes. “She won the Nobel peace prize,” said one. “She’s the patron saint of World Youth Day,” said another. “She died Sept. 5, 1997,” related a third girl. St. Teresa also founded a religious order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity, added the bishop, and “her power was
her love of Jesus. She saw Jesus in the faces of the poorest of the poor.”

Bishop Rhoades also spoke to the children about St. José Sánchez del Río, a young Mexican boy who died defending his faith in the 1920s at the age of 14. St. José displayed fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit that is received in the sacrament of confirmation that many eighth graders will receive this year, he reminded his listeners.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades looks for a brave fourth-grader to answer a question about St. Teresa of Calcutta, who was a popular choice of saint among fourth graders at this year’s All-Schools Mass.

In closing, Bishop Rhoades once again encouraged students to grow in holiness and the love of God. “The Lord calls us all to be merciful. He calls us all to be saints. That is the purpose of
Catholic schools, he added, “to teach you how to become saints.”

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