By Lisa Kochanowski
SOUTH BEND — After a short week of Catholic Schools Week celebrations, the students at Holy Cross Grade School had the honor of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrating their weekly Friday morning Mass.
“The first place I visited when I became bishop here was Holy Cross and my first Confirmation was at Holy Cross. … It’s good to be back,” said Bishop Rhoades to the students at the opening of Mass.
He spoke to the children during his homily about John the Baptist, asking them questions about the cousin of Jesus.
“John the Baptist was the last of the prophets. People thought he was the great Messiah and he told people how he wasn’t worthy to be the Messiah,” Bishop Rhoades explained. “When the priest says, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,’ the priest doesn’t make this up. These are the words of John the Baptist.”
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Rhoades thanked the children for their participation and reverence during the service.
“We need our Catholic people, especially you who are young, to live your faith,” said Bishop Rhoades. “We should pray to St. John the Baptist and pray that he will help us be courageous and live our faith.”
Before dismissing the children back to class, Holy Cross School Principal Angela Budzinski honored Bishop Rhoades with a special Bishop of the Week recognition and Dr. Mark Myers with a Superintendent of the Week.
At Holy Cross Grade School, children from all grades are given the honor of student of the week by their teachers and this entitles them to a dress down day the following Monday. Both the bishop and Dr. Myers were given their special certificates along with Holy Cross spirit wear sweatshirts to wear on their next visit to the school.
“This is a great honor. I’ve never been given something like this before,” Bishop Rhoades told the students.
After Mass, Bishop Rhoades visited the classrooms of each grade and had the chance to talk with the children about the things they were learning in religion class. In each grade the students asked the bishop about his role in the Church and what he did as the shepherd of the flock of 160,000 sheep in the diocese.
Holy Cross Grade School houses 310 students in preschool through eighth grade. The school, established in 1929, is one of the oldest Catholic elementary schools in Indiana.
“I think our greatest strengths lie in our ability to respond to the needs of our students, both in the classroom and with a myriad of services. We offer enrichment opportunities in addition to supplemental services for students,” said Principal Budzinski. “Our teachers are extremely open to working with all students. I have often heard that we do a terrific job in meeting students’ individual needs. Often I am told by South Bend Community School Corporation staff that they so enjoy working with our teachers in meeting the needs of students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans). I am very proud of our staff because they extend this openness to all students, not just with those students who have special needs.
“Another strength is our extra-curricular programs such as athletics, drama, quiz bowl, Bandlink (offered through the University of Notre Dame’s Marching Band) Boys and Girls Scouts, Junior Great Books and preparing for the Young Authors Conference,” Budzinski said. “We also provide service opportunities within the church and community. For students who need extra assistance, we have such services as tutoring (through Saint Joseph’s High School), College Mentors for Kids (through the University of Notre Dame), speech and LIPS. Both during the school day and after school, students can find extra help and advancement.”
Known as the Crusaders, Holy Cross School offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities to fit students’ interests, including a wide array of sports.
Catholic identity is an important part of the curriculum at Holy Cross, and Budzinski and her team work hard to create unique opportunities for the students, such as volunteering at the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Augustine Soup Kitchen and praying for an end to abortion at the abortion clinic.
“During Catholic Schools Week, we focus on celebrating our Catholic identity. For the past several years, we begin the week with a day of Eucharistic Adoration. We also devote a day to service during this week. Each grade level is participating in some service project. Another facet to the caring shown by our students is the monthly dress down days which supports an orphanage/school in Kenya. We send about $300 each month to the By Grace Orphanage and School in Nairobi, Kenya.”
Another important part of Catholic identity is incorporating the goals of the Congregation of Holy Cross. “The pastoral leadership also maintains a visible presence in Holy Cross School. The priests greet students daily at morning arrival. In addition, they engage students by celebrating weekly Mass and during retreats for the students and staff,” Budzinski noted.
“They are integrally involved in the sacramental preparation for various grade levels. They are often the biggest cheerleaders for Crusader sporting events and extra curricular activities. We feel blessed to have such positive pastoral leadership in Father Michael (Mathews) and Father Jeff (Schneibel),” said Budzinski.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.