February 5, 2013 // Local

Bishop Rhoades encourages Luers’ Knights to stay close to God

FORT WAYNE — In his three-part homily, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades left students at Fort Wayne’s Bishop Luers High School with some very important thoughts during National Catholic Schools Week as he celebrated Mass Tuesday morning, Jan. 29.

First he updated them on Bishop John D’Arcy’s, bishop emeritus, health condition and asked for their daily prayers as their former chaplain battles an aggressive cancer. He assured them of Bishop D’Arcy’s deep love for his Bishop Luers family and how dear to his heart they are.

Next, he helped them to understand the Letter to the Hebrews from the first reading, explaining that no animal sacrifices could ever do what the ultimate sacrifice the Son of God did once and for all, when He offered Himself bringing about reconciliation, peace and salvation. “This is what the Mass is for us today,” said Bishop Rhoades.

Finally, he challenged the Knights to say the Our Father every morning when they wake up and mean what they say when they recite “Thy will be done.” He referenced the passage from the Gospel, “My mother and my brothers are whoever does the will of God.”

And Bishop Rhoades told students to ask themselves when discerning important decisions, “What would God want me to do? What is the loving thing to do? For doing His will is the only true way to bring us joy and peace in our lives.”

He continued, “We must know His will, so we can do His will.”

Bishop Rhoades gave a personal example from his own life when in college he was up on a mountain praying to know if God was leading him to the priesthood. After much inner struggle and unrest, he was flooded with a peace about going to the seminary — a peace that has lasted now for 30 years.

Before his final blessing, Bishop Rhoades expressed his gratitude for the beautiful Luers choir, Mass participants and his concelebrants — Fathers Dan Durkin and Ben Muhlenkamp.

Then Bishop Rhoades continued his tradition, which began with his first visit to Bishop Luers, a question-and-answer session with the student body.

The first student carried on another tradition, asking for a hug, while others went on to inquire about the bishop’s favorite Bible story, Super Bowl predictions and his take on this year’s March for Life. The bishop shared that he has been in Washington D.C. each year since he was in high school and though in frigid weather this year, his favorite part of the event was walking together, united as a joyful, courageous witness of the sacredness of life.

The bishop was encouraged by students to start a Twitter account and was taught the meaning of the acronym YOLO (You only live once). Word had spread from his session at Bishop Dwenger, so the bishop narrated the story of his close encounter with death when he felt the strong urge to get off the train in Bari, Italy, which was later bombed by terrorists at the next stop, killing 85 passengers.

After telling about the first car he owned and his intramural football days, Bishop Rhoades agreed to sing along to the school fight song if students would in turn sing the recessional hymn with the same gusto.

After Mass, the bishop proceeded to the cafeteria, then spent time in the hallways with young and old alike, visiting with one of his tour guides for the day, young sophomore Joseph Lewis and health teacher, John Sorg, who is in his 50th year at Bishop Luers. Lewis detailed, “I was called to the office and asked to greet the bishop at the door upon his arrival. Of course, I said ‘yes!’”

The bishop lit a candle in the beautiful grotto before stopping by Tyler McAtee’s morality class. There he quoted one of his favorites from Blessed Pope John Paul II, “Authentic freedom is not to do what we want, but what we ought.”

The bishop guaranteed the group of juniors, “The truth will always set you free.”

In Meg Hanlon’s Catholic social teaching course, the bishop was interested to learn the seniors were studying the four cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. He stressed the importance of the relationship between charity and justice while suggesting students let the Gospels be their “Book of Life” as they head to college.

“Stay close to God and surround yourself with good friends, those who share your morals,” he said. The annual visit culminated with a meeting of the theology instructors and campus ministry staff and finally, a one-on-one with longtime Principal Mary Keefer.

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