February 16, 2010 // Uncategorized
Catholic schools gather for Mass
By Diane Freeby
NOTRE DAME — Just one month on the job, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades learned firsthand how hardy the souls are in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese. Despite the snowy conditions and predictions for more snow throughout the day, the South Bend Area Schools Mass went on as scheduled Feb. 9 at the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion.
“I’m getting used to the weather,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told Today’s Catholic after Mass. “ I always look forward to those days off and sleep-ins to get caught up, but you don’t close here. I guess you have to have a real blizzard!”
Bishop Rhoades greeted the crowd of students, teachers, and administrators from over 20 Catholic schools, wrapping up Catholic Schools Week by celebrating the Holy Eucharist. He made a special point of thanking the 19 priests who joined him to concelebrate the Mass. They were also joined by two deacons, one of whom will be the next priest ordained later this spring.
“The reason we’re all here today,” said Bishop Rhoades, “is that we all share something; we’re all friends of Jesus Christ. We’re gathered here, not to have a day off from school. … We’re gathered here to praise and thank the Lord for His goodness, for all His love. We praise Him in the songs we sing, we speak to Him in the prayers that we recite, and even more important, we listen to Him speak to us, especially in the readings from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture that we just heard.”
Bishop Rhoades said he chose the reading from the Gospel of Mark because it reveals the beginning of the Catholic Church when Jesus appeared to the eleven, sending them forth to share God’s Word with all the world. Bishop Rhoades examined the similarities between the first students of Jesus, his disciples who learned by observing what Jesus did, and the students who learn about Jesus yet today. Bishop Rhoades explained that a disciple means “student.”
“Jesus was their master. He was their teacher,” continued Bishop Rhoades. “They didn’t know it at the time, but He was preparing them not to be just disciples. … He was preparing them to be Apostles. In other words, He was preparing them not just to be students but he was preparing them to continue His work and to continue His mission in the world because He knew He was going to ascend to His Father in heaven … and He was going to leave them behind to begin the Catholic Church. And the Church was to continue the mission of Jesus, to continue to teach the Gospel to all creatures.”
Bishop Rhoades reminded the children that the word “apostle” in Greek means “one who is sent.”
“Jesus didn’t just say I want you to stay around and talk among yourselves about Me. No, He said ‘I’m sending you!’ He said, ‘Go into the world.’”
Bishop Rhoades earlier mentioned what a privilege it is to attend a Catholic School, pointing out the sacrifices made by parents and teachers alike to provide children with quality Catholic education. He exhorted the children to make the most of their opportunity.
“You are all disciples, students of Jesus, the Master,” he said. “It’s a wonderful time in your life and I encourage you to learn as much as you can, to study your religion well, and also to pray … to not only learn about your faith in your head, but also to become friends of Jesus by talking to Him and listening to Him in prayer; by going to Mass every Sunday and holy day; by praying every day, not only in school but also at home when you get up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. And with Jesus as your closest friend, your best friend, and then when you receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, Jesus is saying to you, like He said to those original Apostles, ‘Go! Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all creatures.’”
Bishop Rhoades said everyone, no matter their age, can help spread the Gospel by word and deed. He reminded them that by being kind to others, by reaching out to the poor and visiting the sick, by consoling someone who is hurting, they are living out their faith.
Bishop Rhoades also talked about the suffering people in Haiti, and how the many prayers by and contributions from Catholic schools are ways to share God’s love.
“That’s how we can be apostles, by living our faith by the deeds that we do,” he said. “And that attracts others. When they see us as being holy and good and loving to our neighbor, that brings them to Christ. That’s a way of evangelization.”
Bishop Rhoades blessed the children and promised to pray for them. He asked them to continue to pray for their priests and bishop, that they may be faithful apostles.
“I’d like to encourage you as you continue your Catholic schooling, to continue to grow in your faith and your love of the Lord Jesus Christ,” concluded Bishop Rhoades. “Remember, Jesus is your teacher and your master, and you are His students, His disciples. But He also wants you to be His apostles. He wants to send you out, to go out into the world and to bring His Gospel of love to other people.”
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