Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer
April 5, 2017 // Schools

St. Adalbert School welcomes Bishop Rhoades

Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer

The excitement about Bishop Kevin C Rhoades’ visit to St. Adalbert School was evident among students and by all the signs posted inside and outside the school stating, “Welcome, Your Excellency.”

The day began with Bishop Rhoades celebrating Mass at 8 a.m. He told those present that he was glad to be with them, and that he had originally planned to visit the school on Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but a snowstorm caused the visit to be rescheduled.

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades said, “One of the great things about attending a Catholic school is every day you learn about God and every day you pray. It’s great we can pray together today.”

One of the day’s readings was from Exodus, and the bishop asked the students what they knew about Moses. He talked to them about God giving Moses the Ten Commandments and asked if they knew the first one. “We should put God first in our lives; more important than anyone or anything,” he said in answer to his question.

He then asked the students if they thought people today worshiped idols and, if so, what idols. Students mentioned celebrities and money.

Shown from left are, Deacon Ryan Pietrocarlo, Principal Andrew Currier, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Father Paul Ybarra, CSC, after celebrating Mass for the students of St. Adalbert School, South Bend, during a visit by Bishop Rhoades on Thursday, March 30.

Click here for more photos from the event.

“Some people forget about God and they never pray, never thank Him, are more concerned about being famous or making money,” he said. “God takes care of us; He gives us so many great things! We should not let a day go by without talking to God and praying and saying ‘Thank you, Lord, for my life and my family.’ I invite you all to think about, is God No. 1 in my life?”

At the end of Mass, Principal Andrew Currier had a presentation for the bishop. He said: “There is no greater gift than the Mass, but we have a few mementos of your visit to St. Adalbert’s.”

He gave the bishop a jar filled with notes from the children about the prayers they’ve been praying for him. They also gave him a St. Adalbert fleece sweatshirt and a book about St. Adalbert School.

“Thank you for honoring us by coming to our school. It’s greatly appreciated, and we hope you come again,” he said. Bishop Rhoades responded: “That jar of prayers means so much to me. It’s the best gift I can receive — prayer.” He said he would wear the sweatshirt with pride and looked forward to reading about the school.

The bishop praised the school choir, staff and in light of his having accepted a new position, the job Currier has done in his time with St. Adalbert School. After the conclusion of Mass the students stayed and recited the St. Adalbert prayer together.

Classroom visits

Bishop Rhoades visited each classroom, from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, asking what the students were learning in religion class or if they had learned new prayers this year. The children were also given the chance to ask him some questions.

Kristi Jones’ kindergarten class learned the bishop’s favorite color is green and that he’s allergic to furry animals; they also sang, “You are my Sunshine” for him. First graders in Jenny Crain’s class impressed the bishop when they told him they were learning about the virtue of affability. Their teacher explained it was the virtue of the month in the Disciples of Christ Virtues program. Later an excited group of second graders talked with Bishop Rhoades about their upcoming first holy Communion.

Some of the day’s most popular questions for the bishop included, “Who is your favorite saint?” “How long have you been a priest?” “Do you like being a bishop?” “Why do you wear those hats?” and “How do you become a bishop?”

The sixth graders had designed their own coats of arms, which were on display and sparked discussion about the bishop’s coat of arms. He explained the significance of its symbols to the class. The seventh graders shared that they were learning about the choices they make and that their goal was to get to heaven.

Bishop Rhoades said: “Some people ask, Why did God give us free will if some choose to do evil? But without that freedom we can’t love. The Holy Spirit strengthens us to live out our faith with courage, resilience and conviction — to say yes to God and no to the devil, evil and temptation.”

He told the students there would be many temptations as they move into high school. “It’s not always popular to be Christian. God created us to be happy and fulfilled in life. True happiness comes from living out our faith. Every one of us is called to love.”

The eighth graders who will soon be confirmed by the bishop were advised to study the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the day of Pentecost. He shared that his call for vocation to the priesthood began at his own confirmation.

The bishop learned about the school’s house system from three eighth-grade boys assigned as guides — Emanuel, David and Daniel — whom the bishop affectionately referred to as his “bodyguards.” Later, he joined the staff for a lunch of authentic Mexican food.

Pastor Paul Ybarra, CSC, said of the bishop’s visit, “We’re immensely honored to have the bishop here; this is the first school visit by a bishop in over 30 years. We (were) excited to show him the wonderful programs we have here. The majority of our graduates will be going on to Catholic high schools; most to Saint Joseph, but several will be attending Marian, too.”

A standard of excellence

St. Adalbert School was established in 1912 as an apostolate of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The Felician Sisters came to the school as teachers and are still actively involved in the school today.

The school has 230 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The principal, Andrew Currier, came to St. Adalbert’s five or six years ago. According to Father Ybarra, Currier was instrumental in turning the school around and getting it up to an “A” grade for state testing.

Father Ybarra said Currier created a “house system” with students in third through eighth grades. There are four houses named after notable members of the Holy Cross order — Father William Corby, who was a Union Army chaplain at Gettysburg, Saint Andre Bessette, congregation’s first saint, Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the order, and Father Edward Sorin, founder of Notre Dame. The students in different grades are mixed together, and each house is designated a color for ties and T-shirts.

Currier said the school has Father Colby’s desk bell and new students entering the Colby House ring the bell. Each house meets once a month with adult mentors and focuses on service, good citizenship, and college and career readiness.

“It’s been really good for school spirit,” Currier said.

What makes St. Adalbert special, he said, is the “incredibly talented and highly qualified staff” who have numerous degrees from Notre Dame. Most are English as a New Language certified and “very mission driven.” In addition, the students have become more high-achieving academically. He attributes the academic turnaround to the staff understanding how the students learn, hard work on the part of the faculty and the students, and working hard with parents to push the importance of education.

St. Adalbert’s has a strong connection to Notre Dame. Several of the teachers are or were Alliance for Catholic Education teachers and work with the program to help provide classroom training for those still in the program. They are especially supported by students in Fisher men’s dormitory and McGlinn’s women’s dormitory who tutor students, and Fisher’s Regatta and McGlinn’s Casino Night fundraisers support St. Adalbert School.

St. Adalbert’s has a student ambassador program for leadership development and a “great choir and drama program” for students in fourth through eighth grade.

Athletic programs include volleyball, basketball and a championship soccer program. School teams recently won two ICCL championships

Currier also mentioned a “fantastic program for girls” called the Chiara Club — based on St. Claire and out of the Franciscan Sisters convent. Girls in the program are taken to St. Francis Convent and they work on character development, theatrical programs and more.

Future projects include renovating one of the rooms into a science lab in June to improve their ability to teach science, technology and math.

Currier said his hope for the future would be to “continue school improvement. We’d like to expand our services to the community and neighborhood; to be a stabilizing force in the neighborhood and a beacon of hope.”

St. Adalbert School

519 S. Olive St.
South Bend, IN 46619


Principal: Andrew Currier

230 Students

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