Fort Wayne area schools gather for Mass at coliseum
By Michelle Castleman
FORT WAYNE — “We are all called to be saints.” This was the opening remark of Bishop John M. D’Arcy in his welcome at the 2009 all-schools Mass for Fort Wayne and the surrounding area at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 4.
For many years now, students from the Catholic grade schools join together at the coliseum for this special tradition. Fourth graders from each of the schools dress as their favorite saint and are honored guests on the main floor while the rest of the grades are assigned by school in the upper sections.
Students from Bishop Luers High School served as the choir and traffic patrol, while the grade schools were represented in the Mass as servers, lector or gift bearers.
As he began his homily, Bishop D’Arcy addressed the students on the floor, asking what grade they were in. All responded, “Fourth-grade.”
He continued, “What are you dressed as?” And then he asked, “What is a saint?”
Various answers sparked more discussion before he called an assortment of young people to his side on the stage dressed to honor St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Helena, St. Henry and St. Isidore.
Bishop D’Arcy explained, “Ordinary people are called to be saints if we do everything for God.” He added, “Jesus calls each one of us to be holy, joyful.”
Bishop D’Arcy good-naturedly joked with St. Isidore the Farmer, but he was corrected by the young student from St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne, who informed the bishop that he was St. Isidore of Seville, who was not a farmer but a bishop and wrote encyclopedias.
The bishop referred to Father Damien, who was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 11, drawing that we all need to find “our island of Molokai” (where Damien served the lepers), and be kind to that person in our classroom or reach out to the poor.
Bishop D’Arcy spoke of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her thirst to bring Jesus to the poorest of the poor, St. Therese Lisieux and her little ways, and St. Charles Borromeo whose feast day was celebrated Nov. 4.
Finally, Bishop D’Arcy listed the ways to become a saint, which we are all called to through our baptism:
• Pray every day;
• Receive holy Communion;
• Go to confession.
At the close of Mass, Bishop D’Arcy referred to St. John Vianney, who died over 150 years ago. This saint could not read and could not write, but wanted to be a priest. When he finally did, he loved his vocation more than anything.
Bishop D’Arcy reminded everyone to pray every day to get more priests, especially during this year, which Pope Benedict has declared the Year for Priests. He also used the opportunity to thank all the parish priests who took time out to be at the Mass and were seated on stage with him.
After polling students who could remember and calling students dressed as St. Timothy and St. Agnes to the microphone to assist him, Bishop D’Arcy asked the group to recite together his annual prayer: “Lord, help me, teach me to find my vocation in life.”
The recently-named superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, Dr. Mark Myers, was given an opportunity to address the students and add his thanks. At the end of Mass, Bishop D’Arcy gave one final instruction before the closing song and student dismissal: “Talk to Jesus every day. Talk to him like a good friend from your heart.”
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.