April 23, 2024 // Bishop

Bishop Challenges Students at Bishop Luers to Use Their God-Given Talents

It was a celebratory day at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne on Monday, April 15, as Bishop Rhoades made his annual pastoral visit. The day began with an all-school Mass in the gymnasium, celebrated by Bishop Rhoades. Bishop Luers chaplains Father Patrick Hake and Father Paolo Degasperi assisted with Mass, and Father Mark Hellinger served as Master of Ceremonies. The Knights of Columbus provided an honor guard for Bishop Rhoades. Bishop Luers students Adrian Brzozwski, Eduardo De Lira, Henry Perez-Monterroso, Isla Woodson, McKale Woodson, and Esperanza Zamudio received the Sacrament of Confirmation during Mass.

Photos by Georgia Lieb
Bishop Rhoades poses with the six newly confirmed Bishop Luers students and their sponsors during his pastoral visit to Bishop Luers on Monday, April 15. Those who were confirmed are Adrian Brzozwski, Eduardo De Lira, Henry Perez-Monterroso, Isla Woodson, McKale Woodson, and Esperanza Zamudio.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades explained the Gospel passage about the miracle of the talents. “What is the message that Jesus is trying to give us in this parable?” Bishop Rhoades asked. “The first thing that we usually hear, when this parable is discussed, is the interpretation as to how God has given us all our talents and we should use them. Now, we think about those physical talents. Everybody in this gym, all of you, have natural gifts. You may have not even discovered some of your gifts yet. But I think there’s something deeper here.”

“Back in those ancient times, when Jesus lived on earth, one talent was worth 15 to 20 years of wages. It was a huge amount of money,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “So, I was thinking, Jesus might be talking about something more than our natural gifts. I think he’s talking about these greater gifts that God gives us – spiritual and supernatural gifts. Think about those gifts that we’ve received from God. We’ve received His word. We’ve received His new life; He’s adopted us as His children. That happened at baptism. Those to be confirmed, you already are beloved sons and daughters of God. That’s an amazing gift! The gift of eternal life, the gift of God’s life within us. You will receive today the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Think of all the spiritual gifts we receive, the grace in the sacraments, and the greatest sacrament of all, the Holy Eucharist, the gift of Christ’s very body and blood as nourishment of our souls, [and] the gift of God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. These, I think, are principally what Jesus is talking about in the parable of the talents.”

Sophomore Sabrina Donis receives a surprise award near the end of Mass – a $40,000 college scholarship from the College Board’s BigFuture Program.

“So, the question is, what will we do with them? Do we use them, and make a profit? In other words, do we use them for the good of others and for the glory of God? Or do we bury them? We can receive the sacraments and not do anything with them, bury them. No, God is calling us to use these gifts.”

Bishop Rhoades continued by sharing an example, talking about the life of national basketball standout Caitlin Clark. He mentioned how he watched her during the Final Four and that she is an incredible player, using the natural gifts God has given her. Bishop mentioned that he read in the news that Clark attended Catholic grade school and high school. He noted that she is living out her faith by using the spiritual gifts that God has given her to help others.

“St. Paul said to the early Christians, ‘You are to be the fragrance of Christ in the world,’ to spread the fragrance of Christ, the goodness of Christ, the love of Christ in the world,” Bishop Rhoades said. “That’s our mission! That’s the mission of the Church. And it’s the mission that you’re being prepared to undertake in your education here at Bishop Luers. May you be the fragrance of Christ in the world. That’s my prayer for all of you, and especially for our six young men and women, who will now receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.”

Siblings McKale and Isla Woodson were two of these six students. Thinking back on the day, McKale said: “It was cool because everybody was there. (Bishop Rhoades) was funny; he didn’t make me nervous at all.”

Near the end of Mass, sophomore Sabrina Donis was surprised with an award from the College Board BigFuture program – a $40,000 college scholarship. This award is given out once a month to just two students in the nation.

Bishop Rhoades meets with students for a luncheon after Mass.

Bishop Rhoades enjoyed lunch with a select group of students who represented the different academic programs, sports, and clubs offered at Bishop Luers. They each told him what they were involved in and engaged in friendly conversation. Bishop Rhoades recognized the many activities outside of athletics that students are engaged in.

Bishop Rhoades speaks to freshman in Ann Isch’s theology class during his pastoral visit to Bishop Luers High School on Monday, April 15.

Of Bishop Rhoades’ visit, Father Patrick Hake told Today’s Catholic: “I think it is nice for the kids to see the hierarchy of the Church living. Bishop Rhoades is a descendent of the apostles; he’s a chain back to Jesus Christ that’s living. I think he’s a great leader and engages with the kids really well. I really appreciate his leadership and him taking time to come down to Luers.”

Bishop Rhoades visited theology classes during the afternoon hours of his visit, giving the students the opportunity to ask him questions. Topics included explanations about Bishop Rhoades’ clothing, his vocation story, his favorite holy sites, exorcisms, and more.

One student asked Bishop Rhoades, “If you could say one thing to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?” He responded: “Don’t value yourself according to your accomplishments. I was very driven to excel in everything; I was an overachiever, and I valued myself too much on my accomplishments, so if I wasn’t first in the class, or if I wasn’t perfect, I would kind of feel bad about myself. Well, why should we value ourselves according to our performance? You know, we should value ourselves because we’re beloved sons and daughters of God who mess up sometimes. So I would say to teenagers who may go through that experience where you may have a bad image of yourself sometimes for whatever reason, don’t value yourself on those things or what other people may say or think, don’t worry so much about that. We have an innate dignity; we have to learn to love ourselves.”

Bishop Rhoades speaks to students in Mercylynn Mbuguah’s theology class.

This year is theology teacher Mercylynn Mbuguah’s first at Bishop Luers. She told Today’s Catholic: “In class, we talk about the apostles, we talk about the pope, we talk about the bishops and leaders of the Church, but to have him (Bishop Rhoades) right up front of that class, standing where I usually stand, it creates that personal touch, that personal connection – that the Church, even though it’s universal, it’s also very personal.”

Bishop Luers Principal Scott Kreiger said Bishop Rhoades’ homily impacted him by “the way that he was able to weave in Scripture, history, discussing talents.” He concluded, “The Bishop’s Mass is the biggest day of the school year. It was a really good day.”

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