October 27, 2015 // Uncategorized

Take up the challenge of St. John Paul II, dare to be saints

John Paul Meyer, dressed as his hero, St. John Paul II, completes his outfit with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ miter at the all-schools Mass in Fort Wayne. Meyer is a student at St. Charles Borromeo School, Fort Wayne.

Bishop celebrates all-schools Mass

By Tim Johnson and Kay Cozad 

Click here for more photos from the Mass.

FORT WAYNE — On the feast of St. John Paul II four young men dressed as the contemporary saint for the all-school Mass in Fort Wayne. During his homily, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades called all four students to the stage.

One of the four, who was a student at Fort Wayne’s St. Charles Borromeo School when asked his given name, surprised the bishop by responding confidently, “John Paul.” Another of the four, this time from St. John the Baptist School in New Haven, also had the name John Paul.

Asking for some facts about his patron saint, John Paul Meyer of St. Charles School told Bishop Rhoades that St. John Paul II had canonized 483 saints, which was very appropriate for a Mass celebrating saints.

Young Meyer was complimented on his saint’s papal garb by Bishop Rhoades, but one thing was missing — a miter. Bishop Rhoades briefly “loaned” his miter for a minute to Meyer to complete his wardrobe.

Nearly 3,000 students, teachers, principals, chaperones, parents and guests filled the expo center for the annual school Mass at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Expo Center during the all-schools Mass. Bishop Rhoades was the celebrant of the Mass, and parish priests and deacons also joined in the celebration.

Traditionally, fourth-grade students come dressed as their favorite saints. Many of the area schools were well represented with a colorful array of saints.

St. Bernard, Wabash, fourth-graders Madeline Von Uhl, Isabelle Anguiln and Essie Ward were anxious to attend this all-school Mass as their favorite saints. Von Uhl represented St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Anguiln dressed as St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and Ward chose to bring Mary Magdalene to life, as her feast day is Ward’s dad’s birthday.

Adam Holzinger of Huntington Catholic School dressed as St. John the Baptist, was inspired that the saint “baptized many people.” Holzinger’s classmate Jadyn Stecher chose to represent St. Agnes of Rome because her father recalled the saint’s canonization from his childhood days at the tender age of eight.

Alex Tippmann, fourth-grader at St. Charles Borromeo in Fort Wayne, chose to portray St. Patrick because, “he taught others about the Trinity using a three-leaf clover.”

Other saints represented at the Mass were Michael the Archangel, St. Anne, St. Paul, St. Philomena, St. Mary Mother of God, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Germaine.

“We think about the saints today,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily — “men and women who imitated Jesus, who brought Good News, glad tidings, to other people.”

“The saints are men and women who brought God’s love to others. And we’re all called to be saints,” Bishop Rhoades emphasized. “We’re all called to bear witness to the love of God and the joy of the Gospel, to help other people go to heaven — that’s our mission.”

Bishop Rhoades spoke of St. John Paul II’s love for young people, how he would challenge them, and preach the Gospel with courage.

“He challenged them to be great,” Bishop Rhoades said. “God calls us to be great, not in the eyes of the world. … True greatness is holy greatness. It’s in following Christ that one finds real joy and real peace in our lives.”

Pope John Paul started World Youth Day and Bishop Rhoades talked about the 2016 pilgrimage in which 150 young people from the diocese (16 or older) will be going to Poland next summer. He encouraged the Bishop Luers liturgical choir, who beautifully provided music for the Mass, to consider joining the pilgrimage. “There’s still time to sign up,” Bishop Rhoades offered.

Bishop Rhoades also spoke about the day’s Gospel from Matthew 16:13-19, when Jesus asks the Apostles, “Who do people say I am?” Jesus then poses to the Apostles an important question — a question He asks every one of us — “Who do ‘you’ say I am?”

Simon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus said, “God, the Holy Spirit, told you that.” Because Simon made that profession of faith, Jesus said, “From now on, your name will be Peter, not Simon.” The name Peter means “rock,” in other words, he will be the rock of the Church, the leader of the Apostles, and the leader of the whole Christian community.

Bishop Rhoades said that we all have to personally answer the question, “Who is Jesus for you?”

Jesus is not a distant figure up in heaven or far away from us. Jesus is alive. He is risen from the dead. We can talk to Him; we can listen to Him.

“That is what prayer is,” the bishop said. “Everyday, He is our best friend. He is our brother. And when we mess up and sin, He’s our savior. He has mercy on us. He forgives us when we’re sorry.”

Jesus was central to St. John Paul II’s life, the bishop said. “That’s why John Paul II was so courageous.”

He is a saint because of his relationship with Jesus. St. John Paul taught people how to love and “we find joy and happiness when we live like Jesus. When we give of ourselves, we find ourselves.”

The bishop further encouraged, “Remember the words he said to young people all the time: ‘Be not afraid.’ Don’t be afraid to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid to live your faith with conviction. Dare to be saints.”


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