BY Deacon Tom Picciano
sun contributing writer

BINGHAMTON — Seton Catholic Central’s new Liturgical Dance Ensemble opened the Broome County Catholic Schools Week Mass on Feb. 2. The baker’s dozen of high school students seemed to float together to the front of the gym. Dancers supported a bouquet of flowers high above their heads. Others holding a framed portrait led the unique procession.

They put the flowers below the altar. The picture, of Msgr. Lawrence Giblin, was placed near a Saints halo logo on the wall. Msgr. Giblin, the founding principal of Catholic Central High School, died last September. The day’s Mass was in his memory.

When the ensemble returned to the back of the gym, Bishop Robert Cunningham blessed green votive candles. Then students representing the six catholic schools walked in the entrance procession, and placed the lighted candles in front of Msgr. Giblin’s picture.

SCC also recognized another former principal who was concelebrating at the Mass, Father Thomas Hobbes. Father Hobbes marked the 54th anniversary of his ordination on the same day.

In his homily, Bishop Cunningham focused on the Catholic Schools Week theme of “Dividends for Life.” That’s a theme the bishop said reminded him of the earliest days of his 12 years in Catholic schools.

“The question put to me by the teacher in first grade was: ‘Why did God make you?’” the bishop said. “The answer which I’m sure all of you know was that ‘God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next.’“

Then in a short lesson in finance, Bishop Cunningham related how people invest money. He spoke of the hope that an investment will pay off with additional money — a dividend at some point in the future. He likened it to the investment that parents make when sending a child to Catholic schools.

“Your parents are making an investment in your future. They want you to have the skills and academic preparation that will be necessary for you to move into the future successfully.” he said. “But because you are in a Catholic School, I presume they want you to have something more.”

That dividend, the bishop said, comes through Jesus Christ.

“A Catholic school exists to put you in touch, to teach you about and to lead you to know, to love and to follow Christ,” he added.

“Oh, you will learn to read and write. You will have math, science and social studies. You may have the opportunity to study a foreign language to participate in sports programs or other extracurricular activities. But in a Catholic school, all of this is done with a difference. Christ and our Catholic faith is the foundation of your education.” the bishop said. “Thus the Gospel, the words and deeds of Jesus and the teachings of our Catholic faith will be present in all these classes. They will be present in the very atmosphere of school. They will be present as you learn to live in the right relationship with God.”

“You will come to know and love him more and more, day by day as you move into a bright future. So use this time in your catholic school well. Your future in the world and eternity depends on some extent on how you respond to what is offered to you in your school years.”

Bishop Cunningham told the students that they have promise and potential and keeps them in his prayers. He asked them to pray for him too. “So that all of us together will continue to know, love and serve God faithfully and joyfully in this life so that we might know the joy and the beauty of eternal life with him.”

After Communion, two students offered a prayer for the people of Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake in January. The prayer was written by Diana Macalintal.

“Lord at times such as this when we realize the ground beneath our feet is not as solid as we had imagined …. we plead for your mercy.”

The prayer asked for comfort for the people of Haiti…asking for God to “embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day.” And the prayer asked for compassion from those around the world watching those affected by the earthquake …. “to give and pray for those without hope.”

“Once the shaking has ceased, the images of destruction have stopped filling the news, and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings, let us not forget that we are all your children and they, our brothers and sisters. We all the work of your hands.”

Students, faculty and staff from Seton Catholic Central, St. James, St. John the Evangelist, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph’s, and Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus filled the SCC gym for the Catholic Schools Week Mass. Many parents and Catholic school supporters also attended.

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