Bishop makes pastoral visit to St. Matthew Cathedral School
Capping the end of Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades began a pastoral visit to St. Matthew Cathedral School, South Bend, by celebrating Mass for the nearly 500 students, along with faculty and staff members. Donned in red vestments commemorating the feast day of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, Bishop Rhoades immediately connected with the children by asking them questions during his homily.
Bishop Rhoades’ homily focused on a sentence from the first reading: “Let your brotherly love continue.” — (Hebrews 13:1). The bishop shared that he attended two years of seminary in a city whose name means “brotherly love” in Greek. In response to the bishop’s question about what city has this name, one student correctly answered, “Philadelphia.”
Bishop Rhoades went on to explain how every Catholic school is to be a community of brotherly love, a “philadelphia.” He spoke of the love of teachers and students, helping and supporting one another. He encouraged the children to show a special love for classmates who may be stuggling, hurting or in need of friends.
The bishop pointed to Jesus as our perfect model of such brotherly love in laying down His life for us. “The Holy Eucharist is the the sacrament of this love because it is Christ’s body given for us and His blood poured out for us. The Eucharist strengthens us to love one another as Jesus has loved us.”
Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades spent the rest of the day engaging students in conversation by visiting every classroom and answering just about every question imaginable. Thanks to their bevy of questions, students learned that the bishop is a fan of Italian food, the Philadelphia Eagles, and history; and that he carries a prayer card given to him by St. Teresa of Kolkata.
All that he shared was more than enough to gain the admiration of sixth-grader Nicholas Becker. “I was really excited to see him. He’s a really good person,” Nicholas said.
Joseph Malenda, a fifth-grader, said his class asked the bishop about his childhood. “I wish we had had more time with him. We had so many more questions to ask him,” he said.
Joseph’s twin brother, Luke, had the honor of serving as lector at Mass and was excited about the bishop’s visit as well. “I think it’s great that the bishop came to visit our school out of all of the Catholic schools in the diocese,” he said.
After enjoying lunch with the St. Matthew Cathedral student council, the bishop accepted a request sent to him in a letter from students to play in the annual volleyball game between teachers and eighth-graders. Despite some stellar play by Bishop Rhoades on the student team, the teachers were victorious; but the students were impressed by the bishop’s skills.
“He was pretty good, I was surprised. He had a good serve,” said eighth-grader Cassidy Richardson.
Keegan Quinn, a sixth-grader at St. Matthew Cathedral, could hardly believe his eyes. “It was so cool that he played volleyball at our school,” said Keegan, beaming.
Father Terry Fisher, pastor of St. Matthew Cathedral, was grateful for the bishop’s visit and the positive impression he left on the kids.
“The students had so much fun with him. It was a wonderful week and a great way to close Catholic Schools Week,” said Father Fisher.
Julie Malenda, English Language Learner teacher at the school, said the bishop’s visit to means more than students might think.
“Our role models can be the saints and our priest and religious sisters. What better people can there be for us to learn from?” she asked. “I appreciate that our children get to experience the value of vocations first hand and get to see the religious and the ordained, like Bishop Rhoades, as people they can relate to.”
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