February 17, 2016 // Local

‘Value yourselves as infinitely loved by God’

Bishop Rhoades visits Marian High School

By Irene Copenhaver

Bishop Rhoades speaks about the pocketsize Gospel and Psalms. He visited the school on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, patroness of the school.

More photos available in the photo gallery.

MISHAWAKA — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ annual pastoral visit to Marian High School in Mishawaka appropriately took place on Feb. 11, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, the patroness of the school. He celebrated Mass and visited with the students and staff.

During the visit, Principal Mark Kirzeder announced the top students for the graduating class of 2016. The three co-valedictorians were Christian Dennis from St. Monica Parish, Mishawaka, Erica Gerstbauer from St. Joseph Parish, Mishawaka, and Theresa Rice from St. Matthew Parish, South Bend. The salutatorian was Katherine Rice from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Elkhart. The honorees received enthusiastic applause from their classmates.

Bishop Rhoades dropped in on Tom Dlugosz’ and Erin Pierce’s theology classes. The freshman and sophomore students were treated to impromptu lessons about the early Church.

After visiting several classrooms, the bishop shared lunch and casual discussion with leaders from the student council, campus ministry and other student groups.

The 700 Marian students filled the auxiliary gym to celebrate this feast day Mass. Bishop Rhoades talked about the need for teens to get their self worth from God and not from others. Some teens, he said, suffer from a poor self-image and sometimes harm themselves.

“We need young people to realize God’s love for them,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Their dignity and self worth are not according to what other people say or think (about them) and not according to physical appearance, one’s intellectual talents or athletic skills.”

He added, “Value yourselves as infinitely loved by God.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades gifts the “Pocket Gospel and Psalms” to Marian students. Principal Mark Kirzeder, right, assists.

A hurtful comment from someone or a personal failure should not define you, he said. “Remember that is not who you are (because) you are a beloved child of God,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Reaching into his pockets the bishop showed the students what he carries with him. In his left pocket was a rosary. From his right he produced a small book: “The Pocket Gospel and Psalms.” He keeps it with him for easy referral and reflection. Inspired by Pope Francis, who gave everyone present at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square a prayer book, the bishop personally gave a copy of the one he carries to each student.

He encouraged the students to live life deeply and to do as Mary did, “ponder all these things in her heart. That is prayer.” “The Pocket Gospels and Psalms,” which is published by Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, can help with prayer. “When we take time and spend some time reflecting, it adds depth to our lives,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Currently serving on the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Bishop Rhoades relayed several stories from his recent trip to Haiti and the unthinkable poverty he witnessed. Looking forward to a jog on the beach, he instead found the shoreline strewn with garbage being scavenged by wild animals. A system to manage the waste doesn’t exist there yet.

He also had stories of the good that CRS does — from providing health care and education programs, to building soccer fields.

Bishop Rhoades poses with student leaders and Principal Mark Kirzeder during his pastoral visit to Marian on Feb. 11.

CRS provides aid worldwide. One way all can assist is through its annual Operation Rice Bowl campaign during Lent.

When putting money into the cardboard boxes, he encouraged all “to think about our brothers and sisters around the world who suffer such great poverty and our commitment to love, care and pray for them.”

On his pastoral visit, Bishop Rhoades also met with students enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Teens at the school. They are Audrey Carr, Savannalouise Dennig, Andrea Guzman Ortez, Samantha Jones, Jacob Parker and Emily Stallman.

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