March 24, 2010 // Local

Bishop Rhoades makes pastoral visit to Saint Joseph’s High School

Assembled is a group of students who gathered to welcome Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades with a sign autographed by the student body and a special song.

By Lisa Kochanowski

SOUTH BEND — “We are one body, one body in Christ and we do not stand alone. We are one body, one body in Christ and he came that we might have life. We are one body, one body in Christ and we do not stand alone. We are one body, one body in Christ so welcome to Saint Joe.” 

These are the words that greeted Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as he entered the Alumni Gym Lobby at Saint Joseph’s High School for his recent pastoral visit on the feast of St. Joseph. A group of students held a banner that read “One School, One Bishop, One Body” that was signed by members of Saint Joe and presented to him along with other gifts at Mass.

Bishop Rhoades began his visit to the school by celebrating Mass with the Saint Joe community. Accompanied by Fathers John DeRiso, Bob Lengerich and Walter Bly, Bishop Rhoades began his homily talking about his trip to Israel.
“It was really great,” said Bishop Rhoades. “I came back spiritually refreshed.” He talked about the various places he visited, the heightened security, and the amazing experience he had visiting all the places that Jesus himself had visited.

He joked with teachers telling them he was going to take more of their class time with a little longer homily because he not only wanted to talk about his travels to Israel but he also wanted to have a discussion on St. Joseph and his feast day.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades enjoyed spending time with the advanced Spanish class, testing the student’s knowledge of the language by holding a portion of his visit in only Spanish. He had the chance to talk with the students about his life before coming to our diocese and invited them to join the special Feast of Corpus Christi Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral with a procession to Our Lady of Hungary Church.

“The Church honors St. Joseph a lot. We have many churches and schools named after St. Joseph,” stated Bishop Rhoades who noted that in the 19th century Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the universal patron saint of the Catholic Church. “The Church has given so many honors to St. Joseph. But God gave him an even better honor to be the leader of the Holy Family and stepfather of Jesus.”

Bishop Rhoades noted that no words of St. Joseph were ever written in the Bible which makes us think he was a deeply spiritual man.

“After the dream, he did exactly what God told him to do and took Mary as his wife,” said Bishop Rhoades. “This is why he is such a great patron to the school. What a good and spiritual person. He is such a great example to us, to all teenagers.”

Bishop Rhoades advised the student body to try hard to do God’s will every day, make good decisions that go with the commandments and to follow the Beatitudes.

“We ask St. Joseph to help us be obedient to God’s will just like he was his whole life,” prayed Bishop Rhoades in his final prayers.

At the end of the Mass, Bishop Rhoades was presented with gifts from students Caleb Cobbin and Mary Catherine McDonald. The bishop received a blessed St. Joseph medal, a prayer blanket and an official Saint Joe polo shirt and windbreaker jacket.

Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades had the opportunity to visit four different classrooms. In one of the theology rooms he had the chance to speak more in-depth with the students about his trip to Israel. In the Spanish classroom, Bishop Rhoades had the chance to share his Spanish-speaking abilities with the students and talked to them about his life before coming to South Bend. He educated the students on his background as the head of a seminary and teaching at Mount St. Mary’s for over nine years before being called to be a bishop in Pennsylvania. He talked about his moments of being homesick, his transition to a new diocese and how welcoming the community has been to him over these past few weeks.

Student Council Vice President Maggie Coleman had the chance to not only listen to Bishop Rhoades speak but to be one of the students that greeted him as he entered the school before Mass.

“He is really cool; he’s very relatable,” said Coleman. “He had lots of stories to tell about high school. He was very easy to talk to; very easy going.”

Campus ministers Tami Goy and Lauren Walatka spent several weeks preparing for the bishop’s visit.

“Having the bishop celebrate the feast of our patron with us truly highlights our Catholic identity and how important liturgical celebrations are to the Saint Joseph’s High School community,” said Goy about the visit.

According to Walatka, “The liturgy planning was all done through Tami in conjunction with the Office of Worship.” She felt the visit had a positive impact on the students.

“There is such great school spirit at Saint Joe. I think the students will remember this moment when they were able to welcome Bishop Rhoades with the enthusiasm they showed,” she said.

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