BIDDEFORD---“And I thank the Lord for bishops like you!”
The words of the second and third graders at St. James School in Biddeford enthusiastically filled the air during one of many special musical treats delivered to Bishop Robert P. Deeley during his Catholic Schools Week visit on Monday, January 30 (additional pictures below).
As part of a schoolwide assembly, third and fourth graders sang an original song asking the bishop to “lessen” their homework load and even the teachers got into the act, offering thanks and well wishes to the bishop.
“Our prayers go with you as you do God’s work every day!” sang all the teachers prior to receiving a round of applause from their giggling students.
During a morning prayer service, students, one by one, stood in front of a microphone and asked for prayers for children from different countries around the world, including those who are hungry, homeless, or otherwise suffering.
“This was nice,” the bishop told the students after the service. “We talked about all of the different people we are aware of, the children who are in need and all the different ways we try to help other people. That’s what we do as the Church. That’s what we do together.”
Before the bishop visited the younger children in their classrooms, he spent time with the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders for a “town hall” in which the older students could ask the bishop anything they wanted.
One topic on the mind of many gathered was Sunday’s Super Bowl, and the students were excited to learn of the bishop’s former relationship with one of the game’s stars.
“Tom Brady used to be one of my parishioners when I was a pastor in Quincy, Massachusetts,” said Bishop Deeley. “When his parents were visiting, he would come to Mass and visit our church. Very nice man, very polite, and he would always say hello. I will be cheering for the Patriots.”
Students were curious about the bishop’s life, his interests, and even his ‘critical thinking.’
“If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?” inquired one girl.
“I want to have my Bible with me,” said the bishop. “Plus, a toothbrush…and some water. Then you can live!”
Other students had questions about the Church and their faith.
“Has God ever talked to you?”
“Yes,” said the bishop. “I believe when we pray, if we listen, what we hear is God speaking to us as we reflect on and think about what we pray about. Remember, we believe that Jesus became a person, a man just like us. So God speaks to us ourselves, but he also speaks to us through other people like people who encourage us to see ourselves as valuable and worthwhile, people who remind us that we have to respect each other, and people who tell us that we are doing good things.”
During Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 29-Feb. 4), the St. James students will do plenty of those good things: on Tuesday, the school community will bring in donations of t-shirts, boxer shorts, sweatpants, body wash, deodorant, and sports apparel for residents of the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough and on Wednesday, the students will thank volunteers at a special Mass and write thank you notes to the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec and retired area priests for their contributions and friendship.
Catholic Schools Week celebrates the mission of Catholic Schools: to evangelize students by nourishing faith and encouraging academic excellence while accentuating the importance of community and service in a nurturing environment. For more information about the activities planned at St. James and other Maine Catholic schools, click here.