By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
Bishop Grimes students and teachers commemorate Sept. 11 with special Mass
When the members of the student council at Bishop Grimes Junior-Senior High School began organizing a Mass to commemorate Sept. 11, they unanimously agreed on the theme –– “Peaceful Healing.” The students chose the theme as a way to look back –– and to see how far the nation has come in its journey of healing. The entire student body as well as the staff of Bishop Grimes took part in the moving ceremony. After the opening prayers, Father George Sheehan, pricipal of Bishop Grimes Junior-Senior High School, blessed several bowls of holy water and students and staff came forward to help bless the congregation and wish each person “peace.” The Scripture readings were relevant to the theme of the day —–– forgive those who have hurt you, love your enemy and be compassionate. Father Sheehan shared these peaceful messages with the students. “The Scripture says to get along with those who don’t like us,” said Father Sheehan. “God said, ‘I know it is hard, but do it anyway.’” Father Sheehan reminded the students that all people have their origins in God and are made in His image and likeness. The reality is that people today live in a world of conflict. Father Sheehan told the students that conflict begins when neighbors put up fences, when jealousy for worldly goods fosters hostility and when students go against other students because of how they look, talk or act. “What did we learn from 9-11? We learned how far hatred goes,” said Father Sheehan. “Ordinary moments in life were snuffed out because the message wasn’t heard, he said. “And what is that message that should be carried to the person next to us, or in the classroom, on the sports field, in the community or in life? ‘I love you.’ Love means a sense of loyalty, commitment and generous spirit,” he said. “Where have we heard those words before?” he asked. “Through the word of God.”
During the presentation of gifts, student council members Brianne Skinner and Lynn Orlandella brought a banner made by the students to the altar. The banner read, “Loyalty, Commitment, Generous Spirit.” Following the banner, Father John Canorro and student council member Daniel Parks presented Father Sheehan with two fire helmets. One of the helmets belonged to Father Canorro, who is a fire chaplain for the town of Dewitt as well as a twelfth grade religion teacher at Bishop Grimes. A representative from the New York Air National Guard, retired Tech Sergeant Brenda Siegal, brought the American flag to the altar. Father Sheehan then accepted a Red Cross shirt from the Assistant to the Executive Director of the Red Cross, Brian Rory and Daniel Parks. The shirt represented the actions of so many Good Samaritans and the spirit of volunteerism. It served as a reminder of all the Americans who gave their lives to help others. Students Kevin Hall, Brian Duprey and Mike Mokrzycki presented the remaining gifts of bread, wine and water.
The students who organized the Mass hope the theme of “Peaceful Healing” will carry on throughout the year. “We should be acting in our daily lives in ways that promote peace,” said council member Acacia O’Connor. “If enough people carry out the message of peace and work to stop war, the world would be a better place,” she said. Behind the altar set up in the gymnasium was a display of flags of all the world nations. Dispersed among the flags were doves of peace. Reflecting on these, Mike Mokrzycki said, “I like the way we set it up to look toward the future and to better ourselves and better our world.”
Daniel said, “The worst thing we could do is forget. While this Mass may not be the most extravagant, it served the purpose. It got people working together –– not just the students and the school, but outsiders as well. Father Sheehan concluded his homily at 8:46 a.m., in time for the students and staff at Bishop Grimes to observe a moment of silence. “Let it never happen again in your life or in mine,” said Father Sheehan. “Let us be people of peace. God bless America.”