By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

The rest of the school had a test day; the kindergartners through second graders got their quiz from the Bishop.

Bishop Douglas J. Lucia presided at a Blessing of the Seeds Ceremony April 27 at the Most Holy Rosary chapel in Syracuse. The MHR School children received plastic bags containing bulbs and seeds such as sunflowers, but the Bishop told them to put their thinking caps on to come up with other kinds of seeds they can “plant right at school today.”

  The kids figured he meant things like strawberry, watermelon, pineapple and apple seeds. “Your heart,” one student said, getting closer to acing the quiz. 

“Your heart. That’s right,” the Bishop said. “In fact you might want to plant your seed in your heart, ’cause it might help you grow. What kind of seed might you want to plant?”

“Honesty?” one child offered.

“Honesty! Very good, we can plant the seed of honesty,” the Bishop said. 

“Kindness?” a child guessed.

“Kindness! Very good! You can plant kindness.”

“Helpfulness,” offered another keen scholar.

“Helpfulness! Perfect!” 

The worthy things

The thinking caps, now fully functional, also helped the kids come up with obedience, self-control and modesty as worthy “seeds” to plant. 

“If you plant the seed of kindness, and if kindness is growing in you, then you see somebody next to you doesn’t have lunch, what can you do?” he asked. The answer, of course, was “Share.”

The Gospel reading was Matthew 13:31-32, which says in part: “He proposed another parable to them. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush.’”

One boy said he would plant his sunflower seeds at his camp. Asked why he likes the sunflower seeds, another boy said, “Because I love the sun. And I like warmness.” He also liked the singing; the children opened the program with a tune they obviously knew well: “This Little Light of Mine.” And the Bishop joined in.

In the Prayer of the Faithful, the gathering prayed for the Church, the world, those in need, the farmers and the care of our Earth.

 As the schoolchildren held their bulbs and seeds high, Bishop Lucia blessed them: “God our Creator, you have given us many gifts of creation and you have asked us to care for them all. We ask your blessing as we go forth to plant these seeds. As we care for them, help us remember to also care for those in need so that your love and goodness may grow in our hearts and in the hearts of all we meet.”

The children again sang powerfully in the concluding song, “What a Wonderful World,” with the Bishop joining in again.

“That was my favorite song,” he told them. “I love that. I can’t believe you sang it this morning.”

“Been working on it for our spring concert,” said Tim Herron, the school music teacher who accompanied the singers on guitar. 

Theresa May, Associate Director of the diocesan Office of Catechesis, said, “The Bishop was just stunning as usual, especially with children. … He is a pastor at heart.” She also credited the principal and the teachers.

A kindly reminder

“The Bishop did such a lovely job with the Blessing of the Seeds Ceremony,” MHR School Principal Sherri Stone said in an email. “Having an audience of K-2nd graders could have been difficult, but Bishop Lucia was able to break it down into words that our students could relate to and made it so enjoyable for everyone that attended. The ceremony concluded with reminding us that we are to plant seeds every day in our lives with kindness, love, faith, joy.”

“The Bishop was very good with the kids. Everything was positive,” said Deacon Thomas J. Murphy.

Dick Scheutzow, who along with May is a member of the diocesan Care for Our Common Home Task Force, said the Blessing of the Seeds “gave me great hope and planted seeds of joy in my heart watching the kids. It’s always the children that bring us back to the places Jesus wants us to be, with love in our hearts. …

“We watched one young man when he answered a question and the Bishop responded positively; he turned around and was smilin’! The validation the child received was precious. And that helps deliver the message.”

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