Southern Tier Catholic schools students encouraged to witness to their faith
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
BINGHAMTON — Seton Catholic Central High School’s gym was filled to overflowing on the morning of Feb. 4. Students from Catholic schools in the Southern Region of the diocese joined Seton’s students and area clergy to celebrate Catholic Schools Week at a special Mass. Students representing St. John the Evangelist, Seton, and St. Thomas Aquinas Schools in Binghamton and Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Joseph Schools in Endicott all took part in the Mass.
Michael Colabufo, superintendent of Catholic schools, welcomed those in attendance. After engaging the students from St. Joseph School in an exercise that emphasized the goodness of God, Colabufo informed them that they would learn how good God truly is when they listened to the messages of the readings during the Mass.
The Mass began with a procession in which four high school students performing in a bagpipe band entered the gym. They were followed by the clergy who concelebrated the Mass.
Msgr. George Sheehan, vicar for Catholic school advancement, delivered a humorous and inspiring homily. In his homily, Msgr. Sheehan acknowledged and encouraged respect for the young people who were there when he asked groups of students from each school to stand while everyone applauded.
Msgr. Sheehan’s message reflected this year’s Catholic School Week’s theme — Celebrate Service. He addressed the priests, saying, “You were called to share. We are called as priests to make sacrifices, to celebrate the holiness of His Word. We are prophets — to speak the Word of God and we are called to be leaders.”
Msgr. Sheehan asked each group of students if they loved Jesus and encouraged them to respond with “Amen.”
“That’s number one,” Msgr. Sheehan said. “We have to love the Lord.”
Msgr. Sheehan compared the students to the 12 apostles. “You are an elitist group,” he told the students. “You’re hand-picked. There have been a lot of sacrifices to bring you all here today and also to your schools. It’s a call to be different. Jesus could have picked thousands, but he only picked 12. He told the apostles, ‘You have to go out and serve the hungry and clothe the naked.’”
Msgr. Sheehan challenged the students to serve one another. He asked the young people to be attentive to the students who are struggling to stay in school because of their parents’ economic hardship.
“Lots of your parents are going to be unemployed this coming year,” said Msgr. Sheehan. “I want you to ask just for the things you need, not the things you want. Jesus said, ‘Don’t worry about the things you wear or eat.’”
Msgr. Sheehan stressed the importance of being able to love oneself before reaching out to help someone else. “God takes us with our nicks and scratches. Love yourselves with the presence of God so you can love your neighbor and reach out to serve other people. Jesus told us to be holy people through service.”
Msgr. Sheehan asked the students to ask themselves, at the end of each day, “Did you reach out to a classmate? Did you spend time talking to God? Did you help those outside of school in your neighborhood?
“So today, celebrate service, celebrate who you are, and celebrate where you are going,” concluded Msgr. Sheehan.