By Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
ENDICOTT — Bishop Robert Cunningham celebrated a dedication liturgy for the new Seton Catholic at All Saints on Sept. 17. The school was formed from the merger of Our Lady of Sorrows—Seton Campus and St. Joseph’s Schools. Students from kindergarten through 8th grade now attend classes in the building, which was originally built as Seton High School in the late 1950s.
A Holy Spirit theme was evident in the three readings at Mass. That theme extended throughout the gym where the Mass was held. A giant banner with a white dove and flame mobiles hung above the altar. Many of the students and teachers wore similar color clothing, creating a sea of red across the seats.
“Every one of us has been made in the image and likeness and God. Each of you is special in God’s sight, the apple of His eye,” Bishop Cunningham said in his homily. “Each of you is one of a kind. Never before in the history of the world has there been anyone just like you. And never again will there be.”
The bishop reminded the students of Jesus’ teaching to love God and neighbors. But he added it must go beyond words.
“Our actions need to show this love in very real ways. When God made you, he had a definite plan for you. There is something that you’re are called to do that no one else can do. There is something that God wants you to do that will make a difference in the lives of those closest to you,” he said. “The difference that you make may not be evident in something sensational. It may be present in something that seems to be everyday, ordinary actions.”
The bishop’s visit came just as Pope Benedict’s trip was concluding in England and Scotland, two days before the beatification of Cardinal John Newman. He noted that Cardinal Newman was one of the “special friends” of the Lord.
“As we continue to grow, we all have heroes: perhaps our parents, or an older brother or sister, a special relative, a friend of Seton Catholic High School, a famous athlete, a popular musician, someone that we look up to and want to imitate,” the bishop said.
“We need heroes that inspire us and help us, to imagine what people accomplish when they use the gifts and the talents that God has given them. Even in our faith, we have real heroes. The heroes are our saints. We celebrate them in the name of this school building … All Saints,” he said.
The bishop took time to highlight a number of saints. He told of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Wife, mother, convert to the Catholic faith and founder of the U.S. Catholic school system. “How nice it is that she’s remembered in the name of our school,” he said.
He spoke also of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who helped the poorest of the poor in India. “She started out alone. Today there are thousands of her sisters in countries all over the world doing what she did. She’s a real hero.”
He told the students about St. Francis of Assisi. “St. Francis was a young man who gave up a lot of wealth so he could walk through the countryside, proclaim God’s goodness and the beauty of all creation.”
The bishop liked the saint of the day, Robert Bellarmine, because they share the same first name. “He was a great theologian and author. And he said to us if you are wise, know that you have been created for the glory of God and for your own eternal salvation.”
“St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a young French woman, very young. She entered a convent where she spent her life in prayer, she never left. Died at an early age,” the bishop said. “She prayed for people who would go all over spreading and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The bishop also mentioned Brother Andre, who he said was given the worst jobs as a Holy Cross Brother. “But he was very humble and he always prayed to St. Joseph. And other people came to know this man and his saintliness. He built a great oratory, a great church in honor of St. Joseph. People came there and toured and they were made whole. They were made better. In a few months, Brother Andre will be declared the first Canadian male saint.”
Bishop Cunningham asked the students to celebrate the saints as they attend Seton Catholic at All Saints, and in the rest of their lives. He concluded his homily by telling the students to remember three things.
“First, that God loves you. Secondly, God has created you for some definite service — a purpose for which He created no one else. Third, like the saints, you can make a difference.”