Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades made his annual pastoral visit to Bishop Dwenger High School on Friday, Jan. 13. During the visit, Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass, visited theology classes, and took time to discuss school happenings with the student council.
During his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of Hilary of Poitiers, a 4th-century Bishop who went against the current of his culture to defend the teachings of the Church.
“Courageously, Bishop Hilary defended the true faith in Gaul, in the West, like the great St. Athanasius defended the true faith in the East. This wasn’t very popular to do. In fact, at the instigation of the bishops in Gaul, the emperor Constantius II, exiled Bishop Hilary to Phrygia where there were also a lot of Arians.
“St. Hilary spent his three years in exile continuing his defense of the true divinity of Christ through writing. He wrote a great work on the Trinity and a wonderful commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. He was a great theologian, writer, and preacher.”
Bishop Rhoades continued that, as a bishop, he has a special devotion to St. Hilary especially because he was installed as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend on his feast day 13 years ago.
“St. Hilary teaches me that sometimes I have to go against the current in my teaching and shepherding as bishop. If we’re faithful disciples of Jesus and believe in His divinity and His teachings, we need to have the courage to not just follow popular trends and ideas when they are against our faith. We may not be sent into exile like Hilary was, but we may experience some ostracism and rejection, a kind of exile.”
After Mass, Bishop Rhoades visited several theology classes, including morality, ecumenism, and ecclesiology.
In Cynthia Wolf’s morality class, the students were watching “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” in order to examine the moral questions that Carson faced in his upbringing and in his medical practice.
Bishop Rhoades also met with a theology class that comprised students who are a part of the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Program at Bishop Dwenger. The high school established this program in 2020 to improve the skills of students with moderate special education needs.
There, the students told Bishop Rhoades about their hobbies and interests. One student commented that he really enjoyed the sound of the bishop’s voice, especially when he sings the Hail Mary.
The student council met with Bishop Rhoades during lunch, where they talked about newly ordained deacons, highlights of the school year, and answered questions about the day-to-day life of a Bishop Dwenger Saint.
One student told Bishop Rhoades, “Last semester, I took Honors Catholic Social Teaching with Mr. Kenny. That’s probably my favorite theology course I’ve had at Dwenger. We really took a dive into things that were beyond the surface level, and it taught us how to approach those things in a non-traditional way. But it also was led in a way that wasn’t just ‘by the book’ and ‘by notes,’ but it was more like a discussion-based class, which I felt that I got a lot from.”
Bishop Rhoades also asked the students how many language classes the school offers, and they answered that they have the choice to take Latin, French, or Spanish. Bishop Rhoades told them that while he only took one year of formal Spanish classes, continued practice during his ministry as a priest greatly improved his skills and fluency in the language.
At the end of the day, Bishop Rhoades met with the theology teachers as a group before helping to dismiss the students after the end-of-day announcements.
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