FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass and visited classrooms during his recent pastoral visit to Bishop Dwenger High School. He also made a surprise announcement of the newly named patron saint of the school, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, whose feast day is Aug. 22. Since the school mascot is a saint, the bishop said he thought the designation was especially appropriate and the students reacted with pleasure and spontaneous applause. And Bishop Rhoades also conferred the sacrament of Confirmation on senior Alex Schenkel during the Mass, an unprecedented event on school grounds for the more than 1,000 students in attendance.
In greeting the student body, Bishop Rhoades said, “It’s great to be with you today … one of my favorite things as a bishop is my visits to high schools.”
In opening his remarks during the homily, he said, “I’d like to reflect with you today on three people, Hannah, Samuel and Alexander.”
Hannah, one of the great women of the Bible, was unable to bear children. Because she was reproached, criticized and ridiculed for her frailty, she was deeply hurt and fell into depression. This was her weakness, that she drew her self-esteem from the opinions of others, the bishop said. We too can be strongly influenced by others and by our culture.
“This weakness reveals a lack of knowledge, in our heart as well as our mind, that our true worth comes from our identity as beloved children of God,” said Bishop Rhoades.
However, we can learn from Hannah’s strength as well, he pointed out. She had a deep faith in God and never doubted His power. She beseeched Him until God finally answered her prayer and she conceived and gave birth to a son, Samuel. Hannah teaches us to persevere in prayer.
Her son Samuel teaches us lessons as well, said Bishop Rhoades. He was a prophet and a judge, a great figure of the Old Testament. He anointed the first king of Israel, Saul, and Saul’s successor, King David. Samuel was honest and fair and dispensed God’s law impartially. As a prophet, he exhorted the people to turn away from idolatry and to serve God alone. Samuel was a man of great integrity who loved God and obeyed Him without question. His first loyalty was to God, regardless of what the king or the people thought of him.
“This is the faith and loyalty that is so needed in our culture today. … Sometimes being a good Catholic is unpopular,” he said. We need the courage to live our faith even when it brings criticism or rejection. “We need courageous young people like you, Bishop Dwenger Saints.”
The third person Bishop Rhoades spoke of was Alexander, a student at Bishop Dwenger High School, not about his background or life, but about the event taking place that day, his reception of the sacrament of Confirmation.
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