By Elizabeth Carter | Contributing writer

Seton Catholic Central High School students were blessed with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia for Catholic Schools Week.

Bishop Lucia announced the theme for Catholic Schools Week this year: faith, excellence and service. In his homily he connected the themes and the Gospel story with the issues impacting young people in present times. In the Gospel, a woman afflicted with an incurable disease touches his cloak and Jesus says, “Who touched my clothes?” Relating this to everyday life in present times, the Bishop asked the students if they had ever been in a crowd, felt someone brush up against them and looked around trying to figure out who it was. Bishop Lucia explained that the afflicted woman was considered to be an outcast or “unclean” since she had a disease that people feared catching. Relating this to the present day, he gave an example of how we might fear someone with coronavirus coming too close to us.

These examples kept the students engaged and helped them to relate the Gospel story to their own experiences. At this point, the Bishop gave his first gift by repeating Jesus’ words, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.” He reminds everyone that just as the afflicted woman had the faith to touch his cloak, so can his healing power come to us if we all have faith.

Next, Bishop Lucia discussed excellence and service to others, the other two parts of the theme for the week. Again relating his homily to the students’ world, he told them about his tour of the Seton weight room. While visiting the weight room, he had seen a sign that read “Excellence does not just happen, it is a decision we make every day.” He asked if we are willing to make the decision to walk with Jesus and do what he did, which was to care for others. He encouraged the students not to be afraid to be young men and women of faith.

He related a story in his life when a group of very upset parishioners were expressing some disappointments they had with the Catholic Church. Although some of what they said was difficult for him to hear, he knew that he needed to be present and listen to them. Following his listening session, the Bishop was informed that one man who had seriously considered leaving the Church was suddenly filled with God’s love after experiencing the Bishop listening to the group’s concerns. That was the second gift from the Bishop to the students—the insight that, although we may not realize it, sometimes we serve and heal others simply through listening.

When it came time for the sign of peace, the Bishop gave the students a third gift and another opportunity to practice faith, excellence and service. He asked everyone to think of one person they are not at peace with and ask for God’s healing power for the relationship. In addition to each of these gifts given throughout the Mass, there was one final gift for the students. Bishop Lucia ended the celebration by gifting students with a day off of school to be used at their principal’s discretion. The students left Mass filled with gifts of faith in God’s love, willingness to serve others, a sense of peace AND an upcoming day off from school. Life is good at Seton Catholic Central High School!

Elizabeth Carter, Ph.D., is president of Catholic Schools of Broome County.


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